Feb. 25, 2003 Studies published over the past several months disprove claims that products such as additive-free cigarettes, bidis, and novel cigarette-like devices are less toxic than conventional cigarettes.
A study published in the December 2002 issue of the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research examined the effects of bidis--hand-rolled cigarettes from India--and additive-free American Spirit cigarettes. Bidis are popular with adolescents because many perceive them to be less of a risk to health than regular cigarettes, and because they are manufactured in a variety of flavors, such as chocolate or root beer.
For the study, lead investigator Dr. Wallace Pickworth from the NIDA Intramural Research Program asked 10 volunteers to smoke an unfiltered, additive-free American Spirit cigarette, a strawberry-flavored bidi, a non-flavored bidi, and one of the subjects' own brand of conventional cigarette.
After smoking the American Spirit cigarette or either type of bidi, the participants' blood nicotine levels were higher than when they smoked their own brand. Higher amounts of carbon monoxide were exhaled after smoking the strawberry-flavored bidi, but exhaled carbon monoxide levels were lower for the American Spirit cigarette and the unflavored bidi than for the volunteers' own cigarette brands.
Cigarette Products Marketed As Less Toxic Found to be Ineffective
A second study, published in the November 2002 issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, evaluated a clinical laboratory model for assessing whether potential reduced-exposure products (PREP) do reduce smokers' exposure to lethal constituents of smoke and whether they adequately suppress withdrawal symptoms. In this study, Philip Morris' Accord and R. J. Reynolds' Eclipse, both marketed as less harmful smoking systems, were used as examples.
The investigators found that, relative to normal cigarettes, Accord was less effective at suppressing withdrawal and produced minimal carbon monoxide boost despite the fact that when using Accord, smokers took bigger and longer puffs than with conventional cigarettes. Eclipse fully suppressed withdrawal and increased carbon monoxide levels by 30 percent. Accord delivered about one-half and Eclipse about three-fourths the nicotine of the subjects' own cigarette brand.
The researchers concluded that neither Accord nor Eclipse is likely to be effective in reducing exposure to the harmful constituents of cigarette smoke.
Dr. Thomas Eissenberg from the Virginia Commonwealth University headed the research team.
A study conducted by the same research team published in the December 2002 issue of the journal Tobacco Control, was similar to the Eclipse/Accord study, but used another product known as Advance. Advance is marketed as a product that will help smokers reduce their intake of some carcinogens and toxic gases.
The investigators found that Advance produced similar withdrawal suppression and heart rate increase, 11 percent less carbon monoxide, and 25 percent more nicotine when compared to the light or ultra-light cigarette brands smoked by 20 volunteers.
WHAT IT MEANS: Despite manufacturers' claims and the perception of some users, low-smoke smoking devices, bidis, and non-additive cigarettes touted to reduce the harmful components of cigarette smoke are not effective, and may not reduce the death and disease associated with tobacco use. On the contrary, some of these devices might promote heavier smoking and may introduce new risks not currently associated with cigarette smoking, including the potential of inhaling harmful elements such as glass fibers used in the manufacture of some low-smoke products.
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