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Editor, AMA, Reject Reynolds Complaints about Smokeless Cigs Fight

January 18, 1989

CHICAGO (AP) _ According to its editor, there is no truth to contentions that the Journal of the American Medical Association is being used in a campaign against the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s new ″smokeless″ cigarette.

Reynolds contends the Jan. 6 issue of the weekly publication contained incorrect information about its new cigarette, Premier, which heats rather than burns tobacco.

At issue Tuesday was a letter to the editor of JAMA that reported preliminary results from scientists at the National Institute of Drug Abuse in Baltimore, saying Premier could be altered for use in smoking the potent ″crack″ form of cocaine.

G. Robert Di Marco, a Reynolds vice president, blasted the report as a ″backdoor″ effort to discredit Reynolds’ product with ″sensational headlines.″

The journal’s editor, Dr. George D. Lundberg, said the letter was published after peer review, because editors believed it to be ″scientifically sound, in the public interest, and timely.″

″I find it odd and surprising that the R.J. Reynolds spokesmen would choose to vent their obvious frustration in such a pointless way,″ Lundberg said.

″The Journal of the American Medical Association has traditionally been editorially independent and remains so at this time,″ Lundberg said.

Di Marco, however, accused JAMA of ″promoting distortions to further the political goals of its parent organization.″

The AMA contends Premier is a ″new, hazardous″ drug that should be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but its petitions to state courts for removal of Premier from test markets in Arizona and Missouri have been unsuccessful.

Premier contains a metal cylinder with a charcoal tip that is lit by the smoker, who then draws heated air over tobacco products.

The Baltimore researchers said the capsule could be removed from the device and its contents emptied out and replaced with crack. The altered Premier then was smoked by a machine in tests that indicated the drug’s effects would be felt, they said.

It would be ″impossible for a human being to smoke the cigarette in the manner described,″ Reynolds responded.

″It’s outrageous that government scientists are using taxpayers’ money to try to devise and report new ways for drug abusers to administer illicit substances,″ Di Marco added.

The researchers, though, noted Reynolds’ own patent application said the device ″may be used or modified for use as a drug delivery vehicle, for delivery of volatile pharmaceuticals″ such as those used in inhalers.

″When you patent an invention you patent every single application that product might have,″ Reynolds spokeswoman Betsy Annese said later Tuesday.

″We have not heard yet of the AMA calling for the removal of spoons from the marketplace,″ nor for removal of crack pipes or apples, which she said also can be used for illicit drug use.

″Our question is, ’Why are they picking on this product?‴

Ms. Annese said she did not think Premier in its marketed form could be used for taking prescribed or illicit drugs.

Di Marco was not taking calls Tuesday.

Dr. Roy Schwarz of the AMA, who announced in November the association was moving to block test sales of Premier, also rejected Reynolds’ contention that JAMA was being used in the fight to ban Premier.

″We don’t have to manipulate it - we know what the outcome will be (of research on the product),″ Schwarz said.

″We’re opposed to tobacco ... Of course we’re opposed to Premier,″ he said. ″We’re the first ones to say there’s no quarter on this one.″

Reynolds says Premier has the tar and nicotine levels of a ″lights″ brand and virtually eliminates sidestream smoke and tobacco aroma.

″This leads any unsuspecting person to conclude it must be safer,″ Schwarz said. ″In point of fact, there’s no evidence that it’s safer.″

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