Tobacco Company Reports Early Success With Better-for-You Cigarettes

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Aside from not lighting up at all, cigarettes developed to reduce a smoker’s exposure to tobacco’s toxins may be the best way to reduce health risks from smoking.

Smoking continues to be one of the leading causes of preventable disease and death in the U.S., and smokers on average die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69% of smokers want to quit for good, but the addictive effects of nicotine make that a challenge.

Which is why researchers have been focused on creating alternative cigarettes that can reduce a smoker’s exposure to some of the most toxic compounds in tobacco and cigarette smoke, in an effort to reduce the health costs associated with smoking. Over the past decade, options like e-cigarettes, which deliver lower doses of nicotine, are entering the market as a way to help smokers to quit or reduce how much they smoke. And with increasing pressure from the public-health sector to lower smoking rates, even cigarette makers are starting to develop alternatives that would keep sales of the products at profitable levels. Scientists from the research-and-development branch of British American Tobacco (BAT), which oversees more than 200 smoking brands, for example, have created prototypes of cigarettes that reduce exposure to some — but not all — toxicants in smoke. The researchers then tested their cigarettes on 300 healthy adults and found the products lowered the smokers’ exposure to the dangerous toxins.

(MORE: Colorful Way Tobacco Industry May Be Skirting Labeling Rules)

The researchers created three different sample cigarettes using different toxin-reducing technologies. They explain the process:

The prototype cigarettes incorporate several toxicant-reducing technologies: two related to the tobacco and two in the filter. A tobacco-processing technique employs an enzyme to remove proteins and polyphenols that become toxicants when burned. An inert tobacco substitute containing calcium carbonate and glycerol was also added, which dilutes the smoke.

The filter technologies include a resin that filters out aldehydes produced as a result of burning sugars in the tobacco and a novel activated carbon with an internal nanostructure optimised for trapping certain volatile smoke toxicants.

To test the cigarettes, the scientists compared levels of tobacco toxins in the urine and saliva of a group of smokers with those of a group of 50 who didn’t smoke. The nonsmokers provided a baseline level of exposure to the compounds in the environment; anything above those levels could be attributed to the cigarettes. The 250 smokers were randomly assigned into a control or test group. All the smokers smoked a regular cigarette for two weeks and a day so baseline measurements could be made. Those in the control group then continued to smoke the regular cigarette for an additional four weeks, while the test group switched to the researchers’ experimental cigarettes for four weeks. All the participants had their urine and saliva tested for chemical compounds that are indicators for tobacco exposure.

(MORE: Cigarette Smokers Switch to Cigars and Pipes to Save Money)

Compared with the participants who smoked regular cigarettes, the individuals using the test cigarettes showed lower amounts of the toxins in their urine or saliva, some by more than 50%. The cigarettes, the researchers report in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, successfully reduced tobacco-specific nitrosamines by around 90% and about a 40% reduction in exposure to the carcinogens 3- and 4-aminobiphenyl.

That’s a start, but the researchers admit that not all the cigarette toxins were reduced, and that they don’t have data to support that the amount by which they lowered exposure would translate into health benefits for smokers. “Many more scientific studies and tests, some of which are still being developed, will be required to determine whether the use of these technologies is likely to result in products posing lower health risks. In the meantime, and in the absence of sufficient scientific proof, we need to engage with the external regulatory and scientific communities to determine if and how toxicant-reducing technologies should be applied to existing commercial products and how this can be supported by regulation,” said David O’Reilly, group scientific director at BAT in a statement.

(MORE: Should Movies With Smoking Be Rated R?)

BAT, an international tobacco group that makes not only cigarettes but also cigarillos and pipe tobacco, says it is conducting a longer, six-month follow-up trial of its experimental cigarette. According to the Financial Times, U.S. tobacco company Philip Morris International is also conducting a similar but smaller study.

Marina Murphy, the international scientific-affairs manager of BAT, says the company is planning on additional studies to determine the long-term effects of smoking the alternative products. “We do not know if the reductions can be maintained over the long term. When you make these changes, there is a possibly you will change how people smoke. You don’t want to change something in the tobacco smoke and have them smoke more.”

So far, however, they seem to be moving in the right direction.

11 comments
ScottNormandy
ScottNormandy

The Best and Most Authentic Electronic Cigarettes on the market are at www.agradeecigs.com I have tried almost every brand out there and I havent seen nor experienced a product like The E-Black by A-Grade Cigars. GO Ahead and SEE for Yourself!

cigarbabe2
cigarbabe2

If BAT and other tobacco companies really want to do something that will help smokers then they should give groups like the "National Vapers Club" money for lobbyist and start helping us promote safer alternatives like snus and ecigs.  They should be helping us vapers promote legislation that is not based on junk science studies like those conducted by Prue Talbott, and the rest of her cronies {a ton of junk science comes out of UC riverside} , WHO or those Boards of Health who are against any kind of  safer alternatives because they are willfully ignorant.  There is no reason the tobacco industry shouldn't be focusing on safer alternatives altogether like ecigs.

Help promote Harm Reduction Strategies and stop the states from imposing bans on ecigs which are 98% safer than smoking!  As a former smoker I shouldn't have to be standing outside or smelling like a funky cigarette when I quit more than 2 years ago! If only the legislators and Boards of Health would actually be promoting what is best for it's constituents.

Tgirl84
Tgirl84

Here's an idea. STOP SMOKING!!!

KTY
KTY

Remember, it's the tobacco industry conducting the test - what does history tell us about that?

jon.krueger215
jon.krueger215

It is amazing to hear discussions of this topic that appear to believe that smoking just falls from the sky, that 100 million Americans just took it into their heads to start smoking, that this happened spontaneously, no one promoted it, no one spent a dime toward that end, it just happened.

The facts: the tobacco industry engineers the product for addiction, aggressively promotes it, gets most of its customers addicted as children, fights tobacco prevention efforts that work, overwhelms health warnings with powerful graphics and messages, and has spend literally hundreds of billions of dollars on this. Without it, there would be far less smoking in America. The industry knows that. That's why it does everything in its power to keep America smoking.

So now we hear about tobacco giant BAT helpfully working on "safer cigarettes". That would "reduce health risks". Oh, please! BAT could reduce health risks RIGHT NOW if it wanted to. It doesn't need any new cigarettes, any new research.

BAT could stop aggressively marketing its lethal product.

It could stop engineering it for addiction and for initiation ("smooth smokes").

It could stop undermining tobacco prevention.

It could stop its lobbying and litigation and PR campaigns that push up smoking.

It could stop lying and stonewalling about what its product does to the customer and to the people closest to the customer.

It could do any and all of those things RIGHT NOW. Today. That would reduce harm.

It chooses to keep on doing these things. Because it puts its profits over people's lives.

That's where BAT stands on harm reduction.

CarterSemple
CarterSemple

Ah, another ingenious way the Industry Aligns with society.  "Look they are trying to find a solution"...now they will come out with cigarrettes that only kill you a little bit less...................blah!

Tortue
Tortue

@KTY Yes, if only there was a true cientifical research being conducted, motivated by cientifical and not financial purposes

jon.krueger215
jon.krueger215

And yet it's not too soon for the e-cig companies to make claims in their come-ons.