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Quantification of toxicants in harm reduction cigarettes

Institution: University of California, Riverside
Investigator(s): Karen Riveles, Ph.D.BAS, MPH
Award Cycle: 2003 (Cycle 12) Grant #: 12DT-0012 Award: $25,390
Subject Area: General Biomedical Science
Award Type: Dissertation Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of over 4,000 compounds. Many of these compounds are known to have adverse health effects. Epidemiology studies have shown that women who smoke are at increased risk for ectopic pregnancy, miscarriages, or low-birth weight babies. The specific toxicants responsible for these effects are unknown, but recently several compounds called pyridines that are closely related to nicotine have been shown to inhibit the egg from properly entering the fallopian tube (oviduct) for fertilization in very low doses.

Cigarette manufacturers have developed a new generation of “harm reduction” cigarettes that claim to have reduced amounts of toxicants. These cigarettes are being advertised as having “all of the taste but less of the toxins,” but the exact compounds and their quantities in smoke from these cigarettes are poorly understood. The purpose of my project is to determine the concentrations of particular toxicants in mainstream and sidestream smoke solutions and in whole smoke from harm reduction cigarettes (Omni and Advance), traditional filtered cigarettes (Marlboro, Marlboro Lights, and Camel), and research brand cigarettes (University of Kentucky 2R1 and 1R4F). The second part of my project will examine if mainstream and sidestream smoke solutions made from the different types of cigarettes will adversely affect female reproduction by inhibiting proper functioning of the oviduct. Three processes of the oviduct essential to proper fertilization will be measured including pick-up of the egg (oocyte) by the oviduct after it is ovulated, the beating of hair-like structures (cilia) on the surface of the oviduct that aid in the pick-up process, and smooth muscle contraction of the oviduct that aids in transport of the oocyte through the oviduct.

This work is important because little is known about the types and amounts of compounds in these new harm reduction cigarettes. Can the new special filters on these cigarettes (Omnis and Advances) reduce the levels of pyridine derivatives? Are the levels in sidestream smoke also reduced? Are these new cigarettes any safer? Are new harm reduction cigarettes less toxic to the female reproductive system? Claiming to have less of the toxins is a dangerous advertising scheme that may make consumers less likely to quit, or more likely to start smoking if they believe there is a safer cigarette. In fact, the second-hand smoke from these cigarettes may be no different or even worse. The significance of comparing mainstream and sidestream (second-hand) smoke is to recognize the dominant toxicants in each and their effects on the oviduct. Women who do not smoke but are exposed to second-hand smoke may have an increased risk of adverse reproductive effects. These studies are needed to provide information to reduce or prevent smoking that may be initiated by the allure of these “safer” cigarettes.