Evidence is presented that Tobacco Control scientists believed a safe cigarette could be produced and based on this assurance tobacco companies started to produce cigarettes that would deliver lower nicotine and tar in each puff of a cigarette.
The initial impetus for the development of new types of cigarettes can be traced back to the landmark articles by Doll and Hill in the United Kingdom (Smoking and carcinoma of the lung: preliminary report Br Med J II:739-48, 1950) and by Wynder and Graham in the United States in 1950 (Tobaco smoking as a possible etiologic factor in bronchiogenic carcinoma, JAMA 143:329-36, 1950. Both studies indicated a dose-response relationship between the number of cigarettes smoked and the risk for lung cancer. These observations were supported by bioassays that demonstrated dose responses between the amount of “tar” applied to mouse skin and the incidence rates of skin tumors and between the exposure to whole cigarette smoke and the occurrence of tumors in the upper respiratory tract of hamsters. (Wynder EL, Graham EA, Croninger AB. Experimental production of carcinoma with cigarettes tar Cancer Res 13:855-64, 1953; Wynder EL, Kopf P, Ziegler H A study of tobacco carcinogenesis II Dose-response studies Cancer 10:1193-2000, 1957; Dontenwill, Chevalier HJ, Harke HP, Lafrenz U, Reckzeh G, Schneider B Investigations on the effects of chronic cigarette smoke inhalation in Syrian golden hamsters JNCI 51: 1781-832, 1973).
As a result, emphasis was placed on reducing the smoke yields of cigarettes.
The Readers Digest 1957 (the 2nd of 2-articles – Lois Mattox Miller and James Monahan) – effective filtration would remove from the smoke enough of these particles to reduce the health risk to a minimum while passing along to the smoker enough of them to produce flavorsome smoke. Where to draw the line is still uncertain. But Dr. Ernest L. Wynder of the Sloan-Kettering Institute states that, for practical purposes, a filter-tip capable of filtering out 40% of the tar would be a step in the right direction. (Assuming, of course, that the manufacturer does not defeat the purpose by loading the cigarette with stronger tobacco.) “Such a filter tip,” Dr. Wynder says, “placed on a regular-size cigarette which normally yields 30 milligrams of tar in its smoke; would reduce the smoker’s tar exposure to about 18 milligrams. A reduction to that level, as shown by animal studies and human statistical studies, would be a significant reduction in cancer risk.”
Further comment by Dr. Wynder – the filter tip cigarette has been the salvation of the tobacco industry. The greater the reduction in the smoke the greater the reduction in the risk of lung cancer.
On June 4, 1957 – the final report on the American Cancer Society’s 44-month study of the smoking habits of 188,000 men 50 to 70 years old presented evidence of what the AMA called a “spectacular relationship” between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. But the report also showed that death rates from all causes combined rise with the number if cigarettes smoked daily.
Business Week Dec 16, 1967 – The government is interested in promoting cigarettes with low tar and nicotine content on the theory that they aren’t quite as bad for you. Says James C. Bowling, a vice-president of Philip Morris Inc.: “Although we maintain that low numbers are not proven meaningful, we will make cigarettes that way if that’s what smokers want.”
Have we forgotten the outcome from the Task Force – The Less Hazardous Cigarette Working Group embarked on a 10 year government study (starting in 1969) to find a cigarette for those unwilling to quit that would reduce the risk of dying . The only tangible result of the committee’s work was a theory by Dr. Gio Gori Batta that a “socially tolerable” smoking limit was possible. As early as 1971, he cited epidemiological studies that he said showed low-tar cigarettes were less harmful than regular cigarettes. He even went as far as to suggest a legal tar limit of 20 mg of tar and 1mg of nicotine. He published his theory in Science in December,1976 and in JAMA in September,1978 in which he advocated “tolerable levels in smoking." The public responded by buying more low tar cigarettes. Gori identified American Tobacco Company’s Carlton Brand as the safest cigarette and sales in 1979 of this cigarette jumped 50%. Gori was accused of putting the anti-tobacco movement back years.
Cigarette smokers simply compensated when consuming more of the lower yielding cigarettes by smoking more cigarettes per day, inhaling more deeply, smoking the cigarette all the way to the filter.. – will add here manufacturers were also helping out. In 1989, a New York Times editorial on the changing cigarette stated “Obviously no smoking is good but the best should not be the enemy of the good. There is strong social case for encouraging manufacturers to develop safer cigarettes that will sell." Anonymous, Safer cigarettes. New York Times 1989 Mar 3; Sect. A:38).
One may agree with the premise the only “safe” cigarette is no cigarette. The major reason why both men and women smoke cigarettes lies in their growing dependence on nicotine. Benowitz and Henningfield have suggested a gradual reduction of the nicotine content of present-day cigarette tobaccos from 0.8-0.9 mg to 0.4-0.5 mg per cigarette as an effective measure toward preventing nicotine dependence. Eventually, this weaning effect should eliminate the need for cigarettes (Establishing a nicotine threshold for addiction: the implications for tobacco regulation NEJM 331: 123-5, 1994).
Percent of smokers switching to low-tar range of 15mg or under – need to get these numbers (it like 5% to5 85% in 10 years). Possibly the tremendous increase in cigarette smoking could have been avoided without the growth of milder cigarettes, especially amongst women. Regular cigarettes were highly irritable and difficult to tolerate turning off potential smokers.