2005-11-07

Intolerance & Health: Safer Cigarettes & Better Diagnosis on the way

'British American Tobacco' ('BAT') has denied claims that it intends imminently to roll out products developed using reduced-harm research -- but admitted that producing less-toxic cigarettes was an urgent priority. A spokesman confirmed that it was currently developing brands which could take advantage of new filtering procedures, but admitted the science around harm-reduction was inconclusive. She said:
'There is no such thing as a safe cigarette.
'We are working very hard to bring a reduced-risk product to market, but we are very, very far away from that.'
And the company denied suggestions, reported 2005-11-06, that it had privately spoken of creating a product which could reduce the risk of a tobacco-smoker developing cancer or heart disease by up to 90 per cent. It is thought that 'BAT' may be ready to launch new brands as early as 2006 -- prompting outrage from health campaigners who believe such a move could hinder efforts to reduce the 120_000 annual deaths caused by tobacco-smoking-related illnesses.
'This is an ongoing project at a development stage.
'It is possible that there could be a launch in 2006, but it really is far too premature to talk about a launch date,' said the spokesman.
In 2005-01, rival firm 'Philip Morris' began tests of a new 'Marlboro Ultra Smooth' brand -- marketed on the strength of a new carbon filter system. Many campaigners fear a launch of similar products in Britain, claiming that, despite strict EU regulations on packaging, customers will be led to believe they are choosing a safer option.
'We have been through all this before with low-tar cigarettes.
'By encouraging people to carry on smoking by switching to supposed low-tar or safer brands, hundreds of thousands more people have died,' said Director of Action on Smoking and Health, Ms.Deborah Arnott, .
'There is no way of significantly reducing the harm of smoking.'
Scientists are said to be confident that products using the new technology would look, taste and burn exactly like traditional cigarettes. Thousands of lives could be saved if early diagnosis and care of lung cancer patients improved over the next decade, experts said 2005-11-06. But a new campaign group -- 'The UK Lung Cancer Coalition -- says that survival rates could be doubled in the next ten years if standards of care improved. Survival rates for lung cancer in the UK are among the worst in Europe -- half of all those with the disease die within six months of being diagnosed. 'Tobacco firm criticised over 'safer' cigarette', John Innes, The scotsman, 2005-11-07, Mo Links: Scottish Exec smoking in public places consulation Scottish Executive tobacco control action plan ASH Scotland FOREST

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