Brown & Williamson starts test marketing cigarette touted as toxin-reduced

Tuesday, November 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ The company behind Kool and Lucky Strike has started test marketing a new cigarette touted as significantly reducing toxins from cigarette smoke compared with leading low-tar and low-nicotine brands.

The claim has anti-smoking advocates fuming. They accused the cigarette's maker, Brown & Williamson Tobacco, of deceptive advertising that turns smokers into guinea pigs.

Brown & Williamson, the nation's third-largest tobacco manufacturer, introduced its Advance Lights cigarettes in Indianapolis on Monday.

The premium cigarette contains less toxins because of a special filter and a new tobacco-curing process, which represent a breakthrough in cigarette technology, said Sharon Boyse, the company's director of research.

``While there is no such thing as a safe cigarette, the fact that Advance Lights contains less toxins, while still providing a smooth, satisfying taste for smokers, is an important step in the right direction,'' Boyse said.

M. Cass Wheeler, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association, said profit, not public health, was the motivation behind the new cigarette.

``Essentially, Advance provides new smokers with a false sense of security and deters current smokers who may be concerned about potential health risks from quitting,'' Wheeler said.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the introduction of ``reduced risk'' cigarettes underscores the need for Congress to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration full authority over the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products.

``Until the FDA is given such authority, customers smoking these new products are essentially human guinea pigs in a deadly science experiment,'' Myers said.

Vector Tobacco also is producing a cigarette touted as safer. It claims its new Omni cigarette brand is made with a chemical treatment that reduces certain cancer-causing elements in cigarette smoke.

Brown & Williamson said the filter for its new cigarette was developed to lower the levels of many toxins found in cigarette smoke. The filter has three sections, each of which interacts with different toxic compounds within cigarette smoke, the company said.

Advance Lights include flue-cured tobacco that is cured using a new process of high temperature and high-speed airflow, the company said. The process is meant to inhibit formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines.