No Advantage to Additive-Free Cigarettes
Dec. 11, 2002 (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Regardless of popular belief, additive-free cigarettes and bidis, the hand-rolled cigarettes from India, may not offer a less-harmful alternative to normal cigarettes according new research. Instead, they may be more ha
The widely held notion that additive-free cigarettes and bidis are a reduced health danger over traditional cigarettes is due to the variation in manufactured flavors in which they are available. Some of these flavors include strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. Bidis are also trendy among teens due to their less expensive price and the ease with which they can be purchased.
Wallace Pickworth, M.D., of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, says, "Recently, there has been an increase in the use of alternative cigarettes such as bidis, cloves and additive-free cigarettes by adolescents. In the Boston area, for example, 40 percent of teenagers had smoked bidis at least once in their lifetime and 16 percent were current bidi smokers. About 13 percent of the sample thought bidis were safer than conventional cigarettes."
In the study, researchers evaluated 10 "healthy smokers" of average age 24. They smoked an unfiltered, additive-free American Spirit cigarette, a strawberry-flavored bidi, a non-flavored bidi, and a traditional cigarette of the participants' choice brand. Researchers analyzed the levels of nicotine in the blood and the level of exhaled carbon monoxide when each participant smoked these products. Researchers also tracked the number of puffs and the amount of time it took participants to smoke a cigarette or bidi.
Researchers found that participants' plasma nicotine levels were significantly lower after they smoked their own cigarettes compared to smoking an unfiltered, additive-free American Spirit cigarette or either type of bidi. These levels were evaluated 15 minutes after the participants had finished smoking each product. Levels of exhaled carbon monoxide fell below the levels of the participants' own cigarette brands 15 minutes prior to smoking the unflavored bidi and the American Spirit cigarette. Overall, the strawberry-flavored bidi caused participants to release higher amounts of carbon monoxide than with the patients' traditional brands.
Dr. Pickworth says, "Nevertheless, the results indicate that, contrary to the belief of many consumers, bidi and additive-free cigarettes deliver substantial amounts of nicotine and other toxic components of tobacco smoke."