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Research in North Carolina for a Safer Cigarette
As cigarette manufacturers across the country have scrambled to find an acceptable alternative to the regular tobacco-burning, tar-producing cigarette, North Carolina has pioneered some viable options. For the past several decades, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Corporation and Vector Tobacco have researched ways to reduce the amount of tar and nicotine that smokers inhale. Since the advent of the second-hand smoke controversy, they have also searched for a product that would emit less carbon monoxide. However, both companies have struggled to produce a cigarette that contains fewer of the toxins that cause lung cancer and satisfy smokers' cravings for taste and aroma.
RJ Reynolds focused on the composition of the cigarette itself. As early as 1954, about twenty years after the American Medical Association began warning the public of the health risks connected to smoking, Reynolds Tobacco introduced one of the first filtered cigarettes, Winston. Because of Winston's fast popularity, Reynolds developed another filter cigarette in 1956--this time adding a menthol flavoring to enhance taste and attract smokers who missed the full flavor of an unfiltered cigarette. Vantage, the first nationally popular low tar cigarette, set another milestone for Reynolds in 1970.
However, further research showed that none of these filtering techniques reduced the risk of cancer. Although the filter lowered the amount of tar inhaled, the tar was not the primary toxin. Instead, the burning process of the tobacco released three distinct carcinogens: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitrosamines, and catechols. The nicotine in the cigarette caused the smoker's dependence on cigarettes. In the late 80s, with budding news about the harm of second-hand smoke on nonsmokers and the resulting wave of protests against smoking in public places, tobacco companies again searched for a way to lower the amount of smoke released by the cigarette. Finally, in 1988, Reynolds offered a new product--a "smokeless" cigarette that heated, rather than burned, tobacco--Premier.