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Here Are The 3 Main Forms Of Nicotine Products In Canada

There are many types of nicotine products in the market used to deliver nicotine to the consumer. These include anything with tobacco like the traditional cigarette or chewing tobacco.

However, nicotine delivery systems have continued to evolve with different designs, from e-cigarettes to modern oral nicotine products such as lozenges and chewing gum.

This article looks at the different formats of nicotine products and how they are lab-tested in Canada.

Tobacco products – mainly cigarettes, cigars, and cigarillos – have been the main source of nicotine for a long time until the early 2000s, when other nicotine delivery systems started gaining popularity.

By then, studies had already established nicotine to be an addictive compound and that smoked tobacco products could lead to cancers and other health problems.

With the dangers of smoking revealed, companies started switching to other formats of nicotine delivery systems to limit exposure to other smoke constituents.

Today, not all nicotine products are smoked. And although smoking remains popular, other nicotine delivery systems have grown in popularity and captured a pretty significant market share.

In this article, we look at three main ‘next generation’ formats of nicotine products and how they work. But first, is nicotine a tobacco product?

Is Nicotine A Tobacco Product?

Tobacco next to a pipe. Different types of nicotine products.

For decades, nicotine has been coupled with tobacco and all the health problems associated with tobacco use, including carcinogenic smoke, lung and cardiovascular diseases

However, it’s possible to extract the nicotine, which is the main reason why people smoke cigarettes outside of the flavour, eliminating the harmful constituents of tobacco.

Although most products today contain tobacco-derived nicotine, not all sources of nicotine come from the tobacco plant. Methods have been developed to produce nicotine in the lab using sources other than tobacco.

This type of nicotine is called synthetic or tobacco-free nicotine (TFN). When purified, it can have the same properties and molecular formula as tobacco-derived nicotine (TDN).

Synthetic and tobacco-derived nicotine may show differences in optical rotation (R-Nicotine and S-Nicotine ratio) and level of impurities depending on the synthesis and/or purification process. These differences may alter some of the physiological effects of nicotine.

Synthetic nicotine may not be regulated the same way as tobacco nicotine dependent on the jurisdiction, however, this continues to evolve.

Nicotine is the main constituent in a wide range of products. Here are the major formats of main nicotine products:

1. Heat-Not-Burn Tobacco Products

Woman outside on mobile phone while vaping tobacco.

“Heat-not-burn” or “heated tobacco products” deliver nicotine by heating the tobacco material instead of burning. These products produce an aerosol delivering nicotine to the user with each puff. Heat-not-burn products are neither cigarettes nor vapes. 

Like cigarettes, they deliver nicotine from tobacco materials or some form of tobacco containing substrate without burning the tobacco as its heat source. Unlike cigarettes, emissions are produced by an external heat source, ‘distilling’ the nicotine from a consumable item.They differ from vape products as they contain tobacco or a tobacco substrate material.

There are three basic categories of heated tobacco products 

Some heat-not-burn products, such as IQOS and Glo, use a device to heat a tobacco-containing material, releasing or ‘distilling’ nicotine, flavours and other compounds. These products often use some form of induction heating of an individually packaged consumable to produce the emissions. Many of these consumables may appear like regular cigarettes but are constructed differently. They are often shorter or thinner than cigarettes in order to facilitate the heating process. 

Some heat-not-burn products have a carbon-based tip contained in the product, that is used as its heat source. The carbon tip requires the use of a lighter to initiate the heating process. The heat from the carbon tip is transferred to the tobacco-containing material by various mechanisms, releasing the nicotine into the emissions

Some heat-not-burn products like Ploom and Lil, work by heating liquid-like e-vapour products. The heated aerosol distills flavour and nicotine as it passes through a tobacco-based material delivering the emissions to the consumer

While cigarettes burn tobacco at high temperatures, many heat-not-burn products heat the plant materials at significantly lower temperatures. As such, they do not produce smoke, ash or fire and the levels of harmful chemicals are also significantly reduced.

Scientist in lab testing nicotine products in Canada

Like any other tobacco-containing products, heat-not-burn products require comprehensive lab testing to comply with Health Canada and FDA regulations. As such, you need to partner with a lab that has relevant experience with tobacco-heated product aerosol testing – like Labstat.

Labstat is a global leading heat-not-burn testing lab. We have been testing heat-not-burn products since their introduction in the 1990s, developing our testing capabilities and technologies to ensure that we can better meet your product design and regulatory needs, all while offering the best in class scientific expertise.

2. E-Cigarettes (E-Vapour Products)

E-Cigarettes & E-Vapour Products. Lab testing nicotine products in Canada.

An e-cigarette is an electronic device that heats a nicotine-infused solution (called an e-liquid), turning it to vapour, which is delivered to the consumer. E-cigarettes have different names, including “e-cigs,” “vape pens,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems or ENDS.”

E-cigarettes come in a wide range of designs and can be made to look like regular cigarettes, pens, USB sticks, or other everyday times. All e-cigarettes have three basic components; a power source, a vaporizing liquid, and an atomizing unit to generate the aerosol. 

All e-cigarettes will fall into two categories: open and closed systems. Within each category, there are sub-categories related to the design, operation and flexibility related to the device’s operational parameters. Open systems allow the user to fill (and re-fill) their device with their choice of e-liquid. In a closed system, the liquid and atomizer are contained within a consumable unit. Once the liquid is used up, the consumable unit must be replaced

The e-liquid or (e-juice) usually contains nicotine in a base solution that usually contains a combination of glycerol (vegetable glycerin), propylene glycol and, depending on the laws in your jurisdiction, a flavour component. The type of nicotine (free or nicotine salt) and the ratio of each of the base components of the e-liquid, will impact the user experience from the emissions of the e-vapour product. 

If you are looking to get your nicotine e-cigarette or e-liquid product tested, choose Labstat for all your testing needs. Labstat has amassed extensive technical and scientific knowledge from 2008 when we began testing e-cigarettes prototypes and e-liquids and closely followed their development to market and regulatory submission.

We offer PMTA, HPHC, In Vitro Toxicology, Stability testing, microbiology and flavourings testing for all e-cigarette and e-liquid products.

3. Modern Oral Nicotine Products – Gum, Lozenges, Pouches 


Modern oral nicotine products are a relatively new category of nicotine products that are smokeless and spitless. These refined products typically don’t contain plant material (i.e. tobacco). 

There are three commonly used modern oral nicotine products including :

Nicotine gum – This product has a candy coating on the outside and is designed to be chewable. Nicotine is released as soon as the user starts chewing the gum. This product is usually flavoured.

Nicotine Lozenges – These are types of tablets made to dissolve slowly in the mouth, releasing the nicotine over time. Unlike nicotine gum, lozenges don’t typically have an outer layer of sweet candy. However, they are designed dissolve completely, meaning the user doesn’t remain with a used piece of gum to dispose of.

Nicotine pouches – These are small, tablet-shaped pouches that contain powdered nicotine, flavours and filler material. These products are meant to be placed between the gum and cheek but are periodically moved around the mouth to avoid gum irritation.

The oral nicotine product category is diverse, and it requires a lab with extensive experience to provide comprehensive chemistry, microbiology and method development test services. 

So what is the best lab for tobacco lab testing?

Partner With The Global Leader In Nicotine Lab Testing

Labstat is the world’s leading nicotine product testing laboratory. We specialize in analytical chemistry, in-vitro toxicology, and microbiology testing for nicotine and cannabis products. We have over 45 years of experience testing nicotine products in highly regulated markets, you can trust us with any form of product, and we will produce reliable and defensible results.

We are focused on what is important for you. That’s why we are always expanding our breadth of testing capabilities, technology and scientific research to produce reliable results fast. 

We also have nicotine testing labs in Ontario and Alberta to provide Canada-wide service. Interested in learning more about our services? Contact us today, and our team will reach out soon.

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