Nicotine-Free Cigarette Readied
DURHAM, N.C. - Cigarettes made from genetically altered tobacco that will be nearly free of nicotine should be on the market under the Quest brand later this year, its maker said Monday.
Vector Group Ltd. already is marketing a cigarette under the Omni brand that it says has reduced levels of cancer-causing chemicals. Omni went on the market in November.
The Quest cigarette will be available in the third quarter and will be promoted with a $40 million advertising and marketing campaign, Vector Group said.
The cigarette will be manufactured at a plant near Roxboro from tobacco grown in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mississippi and Louisiana. About two-thirds of the crop was grown on several dozen Amish and Mennonite farms in Pennsylvania that traditionally grow the conventional leaf.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture (news - web sites) study confirmed the low levels of nicotine, the chemical that gets smokers hooked, in the biotech tobacco and found that the crop poses little risk to the environment.
The Agriculture Department tests found small amounts of nicotine in the Vector tobacco â€” about 400 to 1,000 parts per million. Conventional tobacco has 20,000 to 30,000 parts per million.
Tobacco industry critics have said they are concerned that a low-nicotine cigarette could encourage more smoking of a product that still could deliver harmful substances.
"If it's nicotine-free, I wonder how many people will smoke it," said Michael Tacelosky, director of Washington-based Smokescreen, an anti-smoking group. "It would make it a less addictive cigarette, but would it make it a safer cigarette? The other things would still be in there."