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Desperately seeking smokers.

Desperately seeking smokers

Cigarette manufacturers earlier this month heard some bad news from both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. Then, last week, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. announced the ongoing development of a new and debatably safer "smokeless' cigarette.

According to a federal study published in the CDC's Sept. 11 weekly report, smoking is becoming increasingly unpopular in the United States. The study found that as of late last year only 26.5 percent of American adults were cigarette smokers--down from 30.4 percent in 1985. The rate is the lowest ever recorded in the United States. Moreover, research in the Sept. 10 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION may encourage some of the remaining smokers to quit. Gary M. Goldbaum and his colleagues at the CDC found that women who smoke and use oral contraceptives are at increased risk of heart attack, but that smoking is by far the greater risk factor of the two.

Four days later, Reynolds unveiled its intention to market a cigarette that would heat, but not burn, a blend of tobacco and flavor-impregnated chemicals. The cigarette, scheduled for test marketing next year, provides the flavor and nicotine of a conventional cigarette. But because it doesn't burn, combustion products such as tar are virtually nonexistent.

A number of physicians immediately expressed doubts about the new cigarette's implied safety, however. Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the new product are approximately the same as those found in a full-flavor, low-tar cigarette, according to the company. Both compounds have been linked to heart disease and circulatory problems.

Some have also questioned whether the new product may require approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does not regulate ordinary cigarettes, but has in the past required testing of "alternative nicotine-delivery products' such as nicotine gum.
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Title Annotation:testing of smokeless cigarettes
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 26, 1987
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