Tobacco Asia

Volume 18, Number 2

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Page 18 of 71

tobaccoasia 19 to prohibit us from contributing, as seen by the recent ban on manuscripts reporting science from tobacco companies introduced by the British Medi- cal Journal." Proctor was quoted at the launch of BAT's 2014 Science and Technology Report, a document it in- troduces as "a call for more collaborative research between all interested parties, in an area of scien- tific endeavor that could become one of the most important public health initiatives of the 21st cen- tury – tobacco harm reduction." Many in the industry already place harm re- duction as their highest priority and companies like BAT, who have the resources to pump into research and development, are investing heavily. BAT is in the top 25% of EU companies for R&D investment. The report states that although its group re- search and development (GR&D) is in a com- petitive sector and has a need to provide superior products to competitors, "Given the enormous negative impact that cigarette smoking has on public health, we have long believed that there is an urgent need to develop products that reduce this impact, and that the building of the emerg- ing science base needed to evaluate these products should be non-competitive." Nicotine – the addictive constituent property of tobacco, and the thing that most people use tobacco products for – is "itself not especially hazardous." That's the word of the Tobacco Advisory Group of the UK's Royal College of Physicians, one of many expert bodies to take this stance. TAG goes on to say, "If nicotine could be provided in a form that is acceptable and effective as a cigarette substitute, millions of lives could be saved." With the addictive ingredient declared largely harmless, there is every chance of revolution- ary changes in the lives of tobacco consumers by countering the main causes of tobacco related diseases, which are the toxic elements in tobacco and tobacco smoke. The primary ways of fighting these are smokeless and non-tobacco products. As well as a clarion call for cooperation, BAT's new report gives an overview of its cur- rent research programs. It sets out several current priorities, including to innovate and develop tox- icant-reducing technologies and next-generation tobacco and nicotine products with potential for reduced health risks. This also involves forming methodologies to measure toxicants in various types of tobacco and nicotine products. Among the developments, aerosol science will predict the accumulation of emissions in the respi- ratory tract, while computational models and non- animal experiments will distinguish key toxicants and devise dose-response models for disease-relat- ed pathologies. Meanwhile, advances in molecular biology and toxicology will help develop in vitro models to assess emissions from novel products. Toxicants are hard to reduce after combus- tion has occurred, meaning the ideal approach, ac- cording to the report, is to remove them prior to combustion. Consequently, BAT's research group at Cambridge is focusing on biotechnology in a to- bacco plant breeding program to reduce toxicants, including tobacco-specific nitrosamines and heavy metals. "BAT's research group at Cambridge is focusing on biotechnology in a tobacco plant breeding program" Treated tobacco is among four recent technol- ogies applied to a prototype cigarette that BAT ex- pects to result in reduced toxicants in the smoke. The tobacco, which has been processed to remove some of the precursors to smoke toxicants, has been combined with a glycerol-containing tobacco substitute; a "very efficient" nano-porous carbon that absorbs volatile and semi-volatile toxicants such as 1,3-butadiene and benzene; and an ion-ex- change resin to selectively reduce some aldehydes and hydrogen cyanide.

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