| 'Safer' Cigarettes May Be Not Be Safer
(HealthScoutNews) -- They're sold by
big tobacco companies and go by names like Advance, Eclipse and
They're marketed as safer cigarettes
that can lessen the risks of smoking by releasing fewer cancer-causing
But two new studies show these
so-called safer cigarettes may not be safer at all -- and may
even lead to increased addiction.
In the first study, researchers
invited 20 smokers in the lab and, over three days, had them puff
on their own brand of cigarettes, then an Advance cigarette, now
sold by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., and also an unlit cigarette
Advance cigarettes are marketed
as a safer cigarette because they supposedly contain less of a
type of cancer-causing substance called nitrosamines, said Thomas
Eissenberg, an associate professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth
University and lead author of both studies.
The Advance study, which did not
look at nitrosamine levels, found the cigarette produced 11 percent
less carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide has been linked to cardiovascular
disease in smokers, Eissenberg said.
But Advance also delivered 25 percent
more nicotine into the blood than the smokers' own brands. Nicotine
is the addictive substance in cigarettes.
"We don't know for sure if
it causes increased dependence, but certainly many smokers would
like to know if they're being exposed to more nicotine,"
A spokesman for Brown & Williamson
responded that the researchers had looked at an early version
of Advance cigarette made by a different company.
"The nicotine levels they
are reporting are not correct," spokesman Marc Smith said.
"They are looking at a product that is not on the market
today. The product being sold today has much lower nicotine levels
..." He did not say what the nicotine levels were.
The study appears in the December
issue of the journal Tobacco Control.
In a second study, published in
the December issue of Harm Reduction, Eissenberg and his
colleagues conducted a similar experiment with Accord cigarettes,
made by Philip Morris Co. Inc., and Eclipse, made by R.J. Reynolds
Both cigarettes heat rather than
burn tobacco, presumably reducing carcinogen levels.
Researchers didn't look at carcinogen
levels, but they did look at nicotine, carbon monoxide and the
effects on smokers' heart rate.
On the plus side, they found Accord
delivered significantly less nicotine and boosted smokers' heart
rate and carbon monoxide levels less than traditional cigarettes.
But Accord didn't do as well as
traditional cigarettes in suppressing cravings or reducing such
withdrawal symptoms as anxiety, restlessness and irritability,
If Accord fails to give smokers
the same satisfaction they get from smoking their regular brand,
they may simply smoke more, which would defeat the purpose of
safer cigarettes, Eissenberg said.
Eclipse, on the other hand, increased
heart rate and suppressed withdrawal symptoms about as well as
conventional cigarettes. However, Eclipse delivered about 30 percent
more carbon monoxide than regular cigarettes, Eissenberg said.
"Based on our evaluation,
all three alternative cigarettes appear to reduce some toxins
that are associated with smoking-related diseases," Eissenberg
said. "But our testing also revealed that Eclipse and Advance
may increase levels of dangerous substances produced by these
cigarettes that smokers should be aware of."
A spokeswoman for R.J. Reynolds
said the 30 percent increase in carbon monoxide (CO) cited in
the study is not correct.
"The CO claim mentioned in
the study is contrary to what we have found during our extensive
investigations. Under FTC machine-smoking puffing conditions,
the 'tar' and nicotine yields for Eclipse are in the range of
ultra-low-'tar' cigarettes, while the CO yield is in the low-'tar'
range," said Carole Crosslin.
The company's extensive studies,
she added, "have found that, on average, there is about a
10 percent increase in COhB in smokers switching to Eclipse from
their usual brand."
However, Patrick Reynolds, founder
of the Foundation for a Smokefree America, called the research
an important step in debunking claims of safe cigarettes.
"There is an array of tobacco
products on the market all claiming to varying degrees to be safer,"
said Reynolds, the grandson of R.J. Reynolds and the son of a
man who died of smoking-related disease. "It will be decades
before we have the medical data and studies in about whether these
products are substantially safer."
Even if a product delivers less
carbon monoxide or carcinogens, he added, it is still unknown
what amount causes an individual smoker to get cancer or heart
"Whether the products are
one percent safer or 15 percent safer, we really don't have any
clue," Reynolds said. "The big danger is that many smokers
may believes these products are far safer than they really are
and will justify their continued smoking based on that."
What To Do
Foundation for a Smokefree America and Action
on Smoking and Health have information on kicking the habit.
Reference Source 101