public health advocates say there's no such thing
as a low-risk cigarette, Dr. Theodore Hersh believes
his Thione Complex product may be just the thing for
those who can't or won't kick the habit.
a former professor of medicine at Emory University
and chairman of Thione International Inc., has patented
an antioxidant compound which, when added to cigarette
filters, can reduce the toxicity of tobacco.
in 1995, the company produces a line of health products.
These products contain a mixture of antioxidants such
as L-glutathione and selenium that help prevent the
harmful effects of free radicals — harmful molecules
produced by excess sun exposure, pollutants, alcohol
consumption, poor diet and other stresses that can
damage DNA, cells and tissues.
way, we thought, a smoker will inhale fewer free radicals
and they'll receive protection from the free radical
damage that is made by the other chemicals in tobacco,"
typically inhale millions of free radicals with every
puff — the number varies with the type of tobacco
and the number of chemical additives it contains.
conducted by the Technion Institute found that cigarette
smoke passing through treated filters was less harmful
to cultures of human cells than smoke passing through
The Thione Complex will not make cigarettes
safe, Hersh said, but simply less likely to trigger
a smoking-related illness. Decades of research have
linked smoking to a host of ills including cancer,
arteriosclerosis, emphysema, liver and gut disorders,
and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.
officials hope to capitalize on tobacco industry interest
in producing a reduced risk cigarette.
companies have tried to develop less toxic products
with varying degrees of success. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
Co., for example, is test marketing Eclipse cigarettes,
which primarily heat tobacco rather than burning it.
Company officials say, however, that while the cigarette
offers a number of benefits — it produces 80 percent
less secondhand smoke and no lingering odor — it
faces an uphill battle in gaining consumer acceptance.
doesn't taste the same, and since the tobacco is only
heated, it never burns down like a conventional cigarette.
An earlier version of the cigarette was scrapped in
the midst of consumer apathy and criticism by public
is great interest among smokers [for a safer cigarette],"
said Seth Moskowitz, spokes-man for R.J. Reynolds
Tobacco Co. "In fact, their number one want as
we've seen in surveys is a product that may present
less risk. However, we found that smokers generally
are not willing to make any great sacrifices in terms
officials say adding their product to cigarette filters
doesn't alter the taste or smoking experience and
won't require any changes in the manufacturing process.
three criteria are that you cannot affect taste, draw
or production in any way," said Gary Falconbridge,
Thione's chief operation officer.
had secured working relationships and agreements to
further efficacy testing with several major tobacco
companies, he said. A consumer product could be rolled
out in as little as a year.
health advocates say that no cigarette can be considered
one of the concerns that I have about these characterizations
and statements of a safer cigarette product is that
it may create a false sense of security for some people
to begin smoking," said Andy Lord, director of
the American Cancer Society's Georgia Tobacco Initiative.
said that instead of trying to develop safer cigarettes,
resources should be devoted to successful techniques
and procedures for helping smokers kick their addiction.
at the Duke University medical center found that even
when smokers were repeatedly told they had a genetic
predisposition to smoking-related cancers, they were
no more likely to quit than their counterparts who
had no such tendencies.
The market for tobacco products is vast. Despite a
concerted anti-smoking campaign by the World Health
Organization, there are more than 1.1 billion smokers
worldwide with more than 15 million in the United
States alone. The WHO says that 4.2 million people
die from smoking-related diseases yearly — a number
that will rise to 10 million annually by the late
2002 American City Business Journals Inc.