A company is developing “safe” cigarettes that reduce the risk of emphysema, using research done by the big tobacco companies. Why didn’t these companies use their own research to make cigarettes safer? They were afraid it would be seen as a confession that their other cigarettes were harmful, at a time when they were being sued by smokers.

Biochemist Bertram Eichel originally researched safe cigarette filters in 1969 for the Council for Tobacco Research, which was run by the tobacco industry. He found that cigarette smoke damages a type of white blood cell and developed an “ion exchange” filter which could remove hydrogen cyanide and acrolein, the most harmful components. He says his findings were “hushed-up” because of lawsuit fears. “If you can demonstrate that tobacco contains substances which are harmful,” he says, “That would put them (the council) in a very awkward position.”

Now he’s started a company called Quest Research Group to develop the filters. While they help prevent emphysema, they do nothing for the biggest smoking danger?lung cancer.

Laws should be set up to help us, not hurt us. Who’s running things, anyway?

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