Chemometric and trace element profiling methodologies for authenticating, crossmatching and constraining the provenance of illicit tobacco products
Illicit tobacco products have a disproportionately negative effect on public health. Counterfeits and cheap whites as well as legal brands smuggled from countries not adopting track and trace technologies will require novel forensic tools to aid the disruption of their supply chains.
Data sets of trace element concentrations in tobacco were obtained using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry on samples of legal and illicit products mainly from Europe. Authentic and counterfeit products were discriminated by identifying outliers from data sets of legal products using Mahalanobis distance and graphical profiling methods. Identical and closely similar counterfeits were picked out using Euclidean distance, and counterfeit provenance was addressed using chemometric methods to identify geographical affinities.
Taking Marlboro as an exemplar, the major brands are shown to be remarkably consistent in composition, in marked contrast to counterfeits bearing the same brand name. Analysis of 35 illicit products seized in the European Union (EU) indicates that 18 are indistinguishable or closely similar to Marlboro legally sold in the EU, while 17 are sufficiently different to be deemed counterfeit, among them being 2 counterfeits so closely similar that their tobaccos are likely to come from the same source. The tobacco in the large majority of counterfeits in this data set appears to originate in Asia.
Multivariate and graphical analysis of trace elements in tobacco can effectively authenticate brands, crossmatch illicit products across jurisdictions and may identify their geographical sources.
Publisher URL: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/26/5/502
Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.
Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.