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R.J. Reynolds Looks at Nitrosamines

September 22, 2000

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) _ Even though its own scientists found no evidence cigarettes with lower nitrosamines reduce the risks of smoking, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. will pursue plans to switch to low-nitrosamine tobacco leaf for its cigarettes.

``Unfortunately, there is no scientific basis at this time to conclude that reducing nitrosamines or any other single class of compounds will reduce the risks associated with smoking,″ David J. Doolittle, vice president of product evaluation for the nation’s No. 2 cigarette company, said Friday in a statement.

Nitrosamines are formed during the curing process used to prepare tobacco for use in cigarettes and have been shown to cause cancer in some lab animals that were exposed to very high doses.

RJR, which makes Winston, Camels and Salem cigarettes, announced last year that it plans to start using a new processing method for tobacco leaf that results in nitrosamine levels more than 90 percent lower than with current methods.

But spokesman Seth Moskowitz said Friday the tests by RJR scientists have shown no difference in how toxic the leaves are with lower nitrosamine levels.

``We will still switch over, since it’s the right thing to do. As far as does it make any difference in toxicity and risk, we see no evidence that it does,″ he said.

Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp. also is reportedly developing its own cigarette made from tobacco with lower levels of nitrosamines.

Moskowitz said the low-nitrosamine leaf will eventually he used in all RJR blends, including leaf used to make its Eclipse brand, which heats instead of burns tobacco.

Moskowitz said the company has agreements with growers for the 2000 and 2001 growing season for the company to install new processing gear in their curing barns.

Because all tobacco used in cigarettes is aged, it will take time before all of the cigarettes use only low-nitrosamine leaf, he said.

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