Proposals to regulate cigarette smoke constituents such as tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide will only be possible if the methods used to measure them are consistent globally and are coordinated by an international body such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), recommended Christopher Wright, the head of Analytical Science at British American Tobacco.
Measuring cigarette smoke constituents in a reproducible and comparable manner has been a significant technical challenge due to their relatively low levels and the chemical complexity of smoke. This has been further complicated by the fact that historically test methods were developed in isolation, which has resulted in divergent or inconsistent techniques.
A group of World Health Organization (WHO) laboratories is currently conducting a validation exercise to establish methods to measure a specific set of nine smoke constituents, a process that would be of greater benefit if it was inclusive and open to peer review. Wright said, "Without collective investment in the development of robust quality control processes, technical agreement between industry, commercial testing laboratories and regulatory organizations will be very difficult to demonstrate, and perhaps impossible."
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) operate under an open and inclusive approach. It has recently implemented an initiative to establish reference products and proficiency studies, both fundamental requirements to establish 'fit-for-purpose' methods. This effort is a significant opportunity to harmonize analytical methods and improve their reproducibility to standards suitable for gathering regulatory data.
Wright said, "Regulatory authorities need to consider the reality of regulating cigarettes without harmonized quality control processes and comparable laboratory test data."