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Nicotine-Free Cigs, Genetically Engineered 547

Posted by michael
from the all-the-cancer-none-of-the-high dept.
jim.b0b writes "Wired has an interesting article about nicotine-free cigarettes, made from genetically engineered tobacco grown by Amish farmers. Vector Tobacco is hoping that their Quest cigarettes will make them a viable competitor to RJR and Phillip Morris. Don't worry, they are nicotine-free, not carcinogen-free."
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Nicotine-Free Cigs, Genetically Engineered

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:05PM (#5177225)
    Grown by Amish farmers? Hmm... Something about this doesn't smell right. ;-)
  • Hahahaha (Score:5, Funny)

    by zapfie (560589) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:05PM (#5177227)
    ...genetically engineered tobacco grown by Amish farmers

    'nuff said.
    • Re:Hahahaha (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:23PM (#5177367)
      Not to be contrary but as far as I understand it (IANA - I Am Not Amish) The Amish do not shun all technology as a matter of course.. They evaluate technology for it's impact on their way of life. If the impact is negative (by their criteria, which may have a spiritual component) then the tech is yanked.

      A couple years ago wired published an article [wired.com] about the Amish evaluating cell phones and I found if a very engrossing read.

      As a technophile the Amish (Perhaps mislabeled as technophobes) completely fascinate me. Like trying to get the perspective from the other side of the coin. never a bad thing in my mind.
    • Re:Hahahaha (Score:3, Funny)

      by BrookHarty (9119)
      I can understand genetically engineered tabacco, they bought the seeds from another company.

      BUT the caption on the picture was REALLY funny.

      An Amish farmer takes a cell phone call as transgenic tobacco dries inside his 250-year-old barn in Holland, Pennsylvania.
    • Re:Hahahaha (Score:5, Informative)

      by br0ck (237309) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:30PM (#5177429)
      I agree that this does sound like a contradiction, but I went to eat at an Amish restaraunt last summer and was surprised to read a pamphlet about their lifestyle that said they don't shun technology outright. Instead they are trying to avoid intrusions into the home, maintain Gelassenheit (simplicity and modesty) and stay seperate from the rest of the world. The Amish leaders consider each technology carefully before deciding whether to allow it into the community. They don't drive cars because they are status symbols. They don't have electrical outlets because they connect to the world, but they do have generator and batteries. Community telephones are allowed and some Amish men carry mobile phones. There are some definitely some weird contradictions like tractors are ok, but pneumatic tires aren't, so they only use tractors with steel wheels.

      More info: Amish Telephones [amishnews.com] The Amish: Technology [loyola.edu] The Amish Get Wired. The Amish? [wired.com] Amish FAQ [shipshewana.com]
      • by cornice (9801) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @08:58PM (#5178376)
        If you want to see a film that attempts to make sense of some of this see Devil's Playground [npr.org]. It's about the period in an Amish youth's life called Rumspringa. It's when 16 year old Amish kids walk on the wild side.

        The Amish believe that a person should be baptised only after choosing the Amish church. They also believe that this decision should only be made freely by an informed adult. Rumspringa results in a crazy part of Amish life which is fascinating. These seemingly naive, bonnet wearin', buggy drivin' kids party like rock stars. The outcome is equally as fascinating. Each year these kids battle with harsher and more adicting drugs and more tempting technology but the return rate has never been higher.

        I got to see the director's Q&A session at Sundance last year and it was incredible to see this young, intelegent, well educated, beautiful woman talk about her feelings towards the Amish. On one hand she saw them as opressive yet on the other hand she saw a life of loving and belonging that she never saw anyplace else.
  • Wait.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ruis (21357) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:07PM (#5177242)
    IANAS (I am not a smoker) but isn't the reason most people smoke for the nicotine?
    That's like alcohol-free beer. What's the point?
    • Re:Wait.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by twofidyKidd (615722) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:12PM (#5177273)
      Im a smoker. I can go without smoking for a few days if the need be. I'm not as addicted to the nicotine as I am the psychological connection to the action of smoking. I'm one of those people that need something to do with their hands and so out in a bar, or social situation, its comforting to smoke. I think that, for me is the real addiction. What I really could do without is all the carcinogens, which are still present in the amish smokes...
      • Re:Wait.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Qrlx (258924) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:24PM (#5177368) Homepage Journal
        Im a smoker. I can go without smoking for a few days if the need be. I'm not as addicted to the nicotine as I am the psychological connection to the action of smoking.

        In other words, there's no real reason you'd choose this cigarette over one with nicotine.

        To extrapolate... who the *hell* wants nicotine-free cigarettes? The whole POINT of cigarettes is that by smoking, you get some nicotine in your blood stream.

        I guess, maybe, that the deal is that you can try to wean yourself off the nicotine by smoking ciggies with no nicotine in them. But taste is really important to smokers, so unless they have Nicotine-free Marlboros and Camels and American Spirits, I can't see that working too well. You'll try one pack of these things and go back to your favorite brand.

        This is even worse than that new Michelob Ultra Light beer. You know where the calories in beer come from? Alcohol. So what's gonna happen? You'll have more Ultra Light beers until you get the buzz you are looking for. Except that here, you just keep smoking, looking for the buzz that never comes, until you get emphyzema from huffing nicotine-free smoke hoping to get the nonexistent rush.

        If anyone can see a use for this product, let me know. Maybe, you could use it to educate kids that smoking is gross (by forcing them to smoke) without exposing them to nicotine, but that's certainly a niche market.

        Of course, if marketed properly this could be something HUGE. Just because I don't see a need for it doesn't mean that sexy chicks can't sell it to horny guys.
        • Re:Wait.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Xerithane (13482) <xerithane@@@nerdfarm...org> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:42PM (#5177504) Homepage Journal
          In other words, there's no real reason you'd choose this cigarette over one with nicotine.

          Well, wrong. People who want to quit, they'll buy them. People who want the social habit of smoking, without the nicotine or the physical addiction... those are real reasons.

          I guess, maybe, that the deal is that you can try to wean yourself off the nicotine by smoking ciggies with no nicotine in them. But taste is really important to smokers, so unless they have Nicotine-free Marlboros and Camels and American Spirits, I can't see that working too well. You'll try one pack of these things and go back to your favorite brand.

          The reason why they have the distinct Marlboro flavor (or Camel flavor, or whatever) is because of the tabacco they grow. Discount tobacco makes discount cigarettes. They're paying twice the normal cost of tobacco, so my guess is they definitely are using premium tobacco as a base. You shouldn't be able to taste a difference.

          Ultra lights have been an increasingly popular cigarette because of the low amount of nicotine, I suspect this will definitely increase Vectors market share.
        • Re:Wait.. (Score:5, Informative)

          by SectoidRandom (87023) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @08:08PM (#5178119) Homepage
          I really dont think a non-smoker could understand so easily (i asume that of the last poster).. I've just quit after 6 years of smoking, it's not easy to do. But you talked about smoking for the buzz? Well the last "buzz" I got from smoking was in high school (6 years ago)! When you're addicted to smoking just like being dependant on alcohol (for eg) smoking simply gives you a "normal" feeling, if you still consider that a buzz your kidding yourself!

          If I hadn't been successful quitting with patches this would have been a great option for me, and honestly I would even be tempted now if offered one of these things, socially at least (at the pub). The nicotine addiction is terrible, especially for those (ex)smokers like me who were addicted to it more than the actual habbit. For me loosing the habbit was nothing, overcoming the chemical withdrawals was a nightmare! :(
      • I don't smoke, but while I was in the army a lot of my friends smoked. I often commented on the same reflex they all had of looking for their cigarettes in their breast pocket, kind of like a baseball coach sending a signal to a pitcher.

        More than one friend admitted that they realized they were more than just casual smokers when they caught themselves reaching for their breast pocket even when wearing a T-shirt (one admitted to doing it a few times while not wearing any shirt at all!). Sadly, it only becomes an addiction after has become a habit.

      • Re:Wait.. (Score:2, Funny)

        by Scrameustache (459504)
        Im a smoker. I can go without smoking for a few days if the need be. I'm not as addicted to the nicotine as I am the psychological connection to the action of smoking.

        *cough*denial*cough*
      • Re:Wait.. (Score:2, Informative)

        by mckayc (307712)
        What I really could do without is all the carcinogens, which are still present in the amish smokes...

        From the article:
        Using palladium to treat tobacco, they produced a cigarette that caused 70 percent fewer tumors in mice. Trumpeting the research, LeBow launched a $25 million advertising campaign in 2001 and released what was dubbed the Omni.

        It was a huge failure. The brand has managed less than $6 million in sales to date - that's about what Marlboro does in four hours - and, though it's still available, the Omni is not being advertised.


        Your prayers have been answered! :)
      • Re:Wait.. (Score:5, Funny)

        by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet.hotmail@com> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:34PM (#5177901) Journal
        I'm one of those people that need something to do with their hands and so out in a bar, or social situation, its comforting to smoke.

        Have you considered taking up drinking?

    • Re:Wait.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by guido1 (108876) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:14PM (#5177291)
      From the article:
      The idea is that people will be able to wean themselves from nicotine while continuing to smoke. Smokers are attached to the ritual, LeBow explains. Forcing them to fight both the addiction to nicotine and the habit of smoking makes it less likely that they'll succeed in quitting. With the Quest, nicotine dependency can for the first time be separated from the ritual. Once the addiction is addressed, smokers will have an easier time breaking the habit.

      The point of the article... can be found in the article. Whoa.
      • by Transient0 (175617) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:45PM (#5177531) Homepage
        The reason this is interesting is because now the chemical and the habit can be seperated into two problems each easier to deal with on its own than in conjunction with the other. Nicotine patches and gum have helped a large number of people give up smoking because they allow a smoker to wean themselves off of the physical habit without having to deal with withdrawal from the chemical. If they are successful at this step, they have come half way and have only to wean themselves off of the patch.

        This engineered tobacco allows the same process to work the other way. In fact the two could probably be combined for a very gentle weaning process consisting of first switching smokers to nicotine-free cigarettes and nicotine patches and then slowly lowering the use of one while keeping the other constant and then lowering the second to match.

        Also, to all the people saying this is a dumb idea and using comparisons with alcohol-free beer(which they claim is also a dumb idea). Regardless of whether you think it will help people quit smoking or not, I guarantee that enough people will be willing to try to pull in a healthy profit for the company. All those companies aren't making alcohol-free beer because it doesn't sell. So in that sense its definitely not a dumb idea.
    • I wondered about this as well. And since it's nut just the nicotine that hurts you, are they really doing anyone a favor? Oh, these won't hurt me... there isn't any nicotine. WFT?

      Inhaling smoke of any sort can't be good for you.

    • Re:Wait.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by yuckf00 (644870)
      Because the bigger part of the addition is mental, not physical. Some people develop an oral fixation for cigarettes. I've been smoking for 8 years now and haven't been able to stop. The addiction is really bad. One time, I was on the patch for several weeks. I was doing pretty good (didn't smoke at all). One night I realized I didn't have my patch on and I had just went the whole day without one. I immediately freaked out and needed a cigarette. That's when I realized my problem is more mental, less physical.
    • I think a lot of people smoke just to be "cool" and "sophisticated". Teenagers, for example, don't start smoking for the nicotine fix. That's the reason they continue to smoke, but not the reason they start. This will fill the needs of the large "idiot" market in America. Carcinogens without the buzz- might as well start snorting asbestos.

      I started smoking for the nicotine, because it actually helped me concentrate especially when I was working obscene hours and sleeping very little. One might argue that this is just as stupid as the 15-year-old who wants to act mature, I suppose. (My excuse was that college would knock more years off my life than smoking would. I would have done amphetamines instead if I knew a good source.)
    • Alcohol-free beer (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vic (6867)
      You're making a big assumption that most people only drink beer because it has alcohol.

      For me, I'd be delighted to find a good-tasting alcohol-free beer. Or even a very low-alcohol beer. To me, it's the taste of having a good beer that is most important, although I admit that the alcohol is a nice bonus most of the time. ;-)

      But imagine being able to have a couple of stouts at lunch time, and then still being able to operate heavy machinery without killing someone (or running servers without bringing your corporate web server to its knees)? That would kick ass. Beer tastes so good.

      The non-alcohol beers, unfortunately, are not worth getting....

      Cheers,
      Vic
    • Nope (Score:2, Funny)

      by Guitarzan (57028)
      People smoke so they can stink, and make everyone around them stink as well.
    • by kfg (145172)
      Some sort of "rush" (whatever that is) is the reason *many* people smoke cigarettes. Bear in mind that smoking != does not equal cigarettes and smokers of pipes and cigars do not get such a "rush", nor do they experience the habit forming symptoms of the cigarette smoker.

      Believe it or not there ARE people who smoke merely for the act, and yes, the smell and flavor, no matter how offensive some *others* may find these. (Personally I can't stand patchouli or most other perfumes, that doesn't mean they *aren't* pleasant. . . to some). There are many, many other "smokey" products that even nonsmokers enjoy, such as incense, smoke flavored foods, etc., so the idea that smoke might smell and/or taste good is not only not bizarre, but historically the opposite point of view is the bizarre one. People have loved smoke since prehistoric times and may well be the main reason the control of fire was first sought, not heat.

      As for the nicotine itself there's a problem here. It has never actually been shown to be the "active" ingredient in cigarette smoke that gives the "rush." There's certainly no evidence that it's the agent that causes "addiction." ( And there isn't any actual evidence that cigarettes are addictive, at least in the classical sense, as opposed to "habit forming"). Other nicotine containing plants in common usage give no such habit forming symptoms.

      Such nicotine containing plants are among the most consumed on earth, with no ill effect of any kind ( at least if you prepare them properly) so there is clearly a safe level of nicotine consumption.

      "What plants?", I hear you cry.

      As it happens tobacco is a variety of nightshade. So are potatoes and tomatoes. When you you have fries with ketchup you're eating nicotine, and just about every *other* chemical found in tobacco. This is why tomatoes were long believed to be poisonous ( as its leaves actually are) and people die every year from bad potatoes improperly prepared.

      Nonetheless tomatoes and potatoes themselves are not only nutritious, but quite safe to eat.

      But just as with tomatoes people have *assumed* many properties to tobacco. Many of which it turns out it doesn't have or has to be shown that it actually does.

      The irony, and tragedy of the whole tobacco issue is that it's so politically, morally and religiously charged an issue that despite being about the most studied plant in history very little in the way of *facts* is actually known about it, or the effects of smoking it, most studies being clearly predesigned to show or confirm a predetermined negative assumption rather than the "truth."

      If you don't believe me try to get a *government* grant to study the *positive* effects of smoking cigarettes.

      You aren't allowed to simply say "There aren't any." That's a "religous" statement of "faith", not a scientific one.

      Proper science *requires* looking for positive effects to disprove the hypothesis that there aren't any.

      KFG
      • by fenix down (206580) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @03:21AM (#5180254)
        You kind of assembled a lot of incomplete anecdotes there.

        Yes, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and other stuff do have nicotine in them, but not a hell of a lot. The leaves produce the nicotine to keep bugs away. The roots and fruits don't. The nicotine you get in those foods is just what's drifted through the plant. (that's where the thing about not eating the green parts of potato chips comes from, those parts would have more nicotine, but it's not so bad that you'd die or anything) And I've never heard the figures on yearly potato-related deaths. Preparing potatoes doesn't get rid of the nicotene anyway. I guess maybe fungus on potatoes might do something, but I'd like to see that explained a little more maybe.

        Alright. You say that pipes and cigars aren't addictive, which is just shit. They add crap to cigarettes to speed up the addiction process, and it's tougher to smoke as often with cigars or pipes, but you'll still get addicted. Just because they haven't issued the Surgeon General's warning on cigars yet doesn't mean they build strong bones and freshen your breath.

        ...

        Crap. This was a troll wasn't it? I missed the "people invented fire so they could smoke" line the first time through. And the way you replied to the other guy kinda threw me off. Awsome one though. Got me writing like a page here. Well, at least I got to bring up some of my ammusing anecdotes. I look forward to your future work, baby.

        Away!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:08PM (#5177244)
    I get all of the toxic chemicals and none of the "pleasing" drugs? Burning wood chips is cheaper.

    Oh yeah - how will this compete with tomacco?
    • by radon28 (593565) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:12PM (#5177731)
      In other news, Native American tribesmen have perfected a coal-fired factory that produces absolutely nothing, yes still pollutes the environment with same efficiency as their modern counterparts. They are said to be working on genetically modified SUV's that are specially bred to not have wheels.
  • by arnie_apesacrappin (200185) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:10PM (#5177260)
    I like the nicotine. The carcinogens are what I'd like to see removed. Get me a cigarette that is loaded with nicotine, makes my breath smell good, helps me loose weight and makes me smarter. Then I will consider it a feat of genetic engineering.

    Until then, I waive my paw at them and say "Bah"

    • by guido1 (108876) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:19PM (#5177335)
      Well, 1/5 isn't so bad. From page 3 of the article:
      In 1998, a Vector scientist stumbled upon a sealed canister in the basement of the old Liggett research lab in Durham, North Carolina. The canister contained cigarettes from a secret research initiative known as Project XA, an attempt to produce cigarettes with reduced toxins - a safer smoke. Liggett canceled the program in the '70s, reportedly after being pressured by other companies. The industry feared that the introduction of a reduced-toxin cigarette would be a tacit acknowledgment that cigarettes were harmful, an unthinkable admission two decades ago.

      But times had changed, and LeBow dived in. By 2000, a research team completed what its predecessors couldn't. Using palladium to treat tobacco, they produced a cigarette that caused 70 percent fewer tumors in mice. Trumpeting the research, LeBow launched a $25 million advertising campaign in 2001 and released what was dubbed the Omni.

      It was a huge failure.
    • by knobmaker (523595) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:41PM (#5177501) Homepage Journal

      They have engineered the reverse, in a sense. Nicotine patches, gum, and so forth. Unfortunately, these are all priced far above the cost of nicotine delivered in a cigarette, so only those who can justify the cost as an aid to quitting will use these products.

      I see this as a perfect example of our screwy, chaotic, and counterproductive attitude toward drugs. Cigarettes give you cancer and heart disease, so instead of finding a healthier delivery system for addicts, we tell them they either have to smoke cigarettes or go without their drug. Or use oral tobacco with none of the carcinogens taken out, so addicts can enjoy a new set of cancers.

      This doesn't make any sense. Why not grasp the reality that some people are addicted to nicotine and like the effects? Why not provide them with a less-dangerous alternative? Surely a nicotine pill or drink could be made at a competitive price-per-dose. Lives would be saved.

      By the way, this isn't entirely a theoretical viewpoint. In Sweden an oral preparation called snus, [uicc.org] is used by many Swedish nicotine addicts and Sweden has the lowest rate of male lung cancer in Europe. It does increase oral cancer rates somewhat, but that's a bug, not a feature. With our present pharmaceutical abilities, we ought to be able to come up with a delivery system that has harmful effects no worse than the drug itself. Nicotine, while not harmless, is less harmful than smoking cigarettes or dipping snuff.

      Maybe one of these days we'll start treating drug use and abuse realistically, but not yet.

      • screwy indeed. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by twitter (104583) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @09:24PM (#5178524) Homepage Journal
        I see this as a perfect example of our screwy, chaotic, and counterproductive attitude toward drugs. Cigarettes give you cancer and heart disease, so instead of finding a healthier delivery system for addicts, we tell them they either have to smoke cigarettes or go without their drug.

        I quit smoking, so can anybody. From a pack a day to zero. No big deal, you just stay away for smokes.

        What bothers me is the whole set up. If the federal government really wanted to kill tobaco, they could just STOP PAYING PEOPLE TO GROW IT. Of course, the states would lose their lucrative tax base and the economy would lose the export money. Does it bother anyone else that the federal government tells you tobaco will kill you, that you should not use it, but then encourages it's production?

        You have to wonder if this will get the same kind of subsidies. If not, we will know that the federal government considers tobaco a nicotine delivery system and encourges it.

    • Until then, I waive my paw

      I did the same thing, and now it's gone. *sniff*


      (sorry, couldn't resist)
  • by RadioheadKid (461411) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:11PM (#5177266)
    When I used to smoke, I smoked for the nicotine...What good are these things.

  • decaf cigs? (Score:2, Funny)

    by riqnevala (624343)
    Like parachuting from a 4-feet ladder.
  • Stay tuned (Score:4, Funny)

    by Amsterdam Vallon (639622) <amsterdamvallon2003@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:13PM (#5177282) Homepage
    ... as the Amish plan to start producing buggies without wheels by the second quarter of 2004.

    *nix.org [starnix.org] - You say you want a revolution?
  • this is stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I don't understand. What is so bad about nicotine? The nicotine just keeps you addicted. It's the thousands of chemicals like TAR and like CHLORINE that will kill you.

    I'm still not sure I undrestand why cigerettes even have those other things in them. WOuldn't they be just as good without them?
  • Bad, very bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fredbo (118960) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:15PM (#5177294) Homepage
    One main reason smokers smoke one or two or more packs a day is that is the level of nicotine they are addicted to. Take away the nicotine and they'll be puffing away on 4-6 packs a day...
  • by pulse2600 (625694) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:15PM (#5177295)
    Ishmael: Hey Ezekiel! I have an idea! We can grow genetically engineered tobacco that is non-habit forming!!!
    Ezekiel: That's wonderful! What is genetic engineering?
    Ishmael: Well, you take this machine, plug it in, and...oh...nevermind.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:15PM (#5177296) Homepage Journal
    People have been clamoring for years for a cigarette that still tastes terrible, makes you smell, and kills you but doesn't get you high. I'll bet these will be really popular among the total idiot crowd.

    Reminds me of an old Larry Niven quote about smoking. (sorry if I must paraphrase, I cannot remember the exact wording) "I love smoking, I think it's one of the few joys in life. If they ever make a cigarette that doesn't kill you, I'd start smoking again in a flash."
    • The article points out that the same company came out with cigs that did kill you less (70% less they say), and they didn't sell at all. It might be neat if they made nicotine free, not kill you so bad cigs.
  • by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:15PM (#5177298) Homepage
    Don't worry, they are nicotine-free, not carcinogen-free."

    Isnt another name for this marijuana?

  • Wait until they find out that without nicotine there is absolutely no reason for someone to use their product. I mean look at the stunning sales of alcohol free beer.

    Chris
  • The point. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by twofidyKidd (615722) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:18PM (#5177320)
    The point of these cigarettes are to help people trying to quit smoking, actually succeed by slowly weaning themselves off the chemical dependency of nicotine. After that, they can address the psychological dependency of having something to puff on.

    "Asking smokers to quit smoking is like telling people to get out from under the sun, its not going to happen...so you sell them sunscreen."

  • help quiting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Twillerror (536681)
    As someone who smokes and wants to quit, these might be better then gum, etc.

    It would be cheaper as well. It would be interesting to see if it could be used to calm the cravings slightly. Fooling you into think you are getting the nicotine witout really getting it.

    As a smoker I'm not sure if I smoke for the nicotine, or if I just smoke to smoke. It would be interesting to see. When I drink I usually smoke a ton more then usuall, once drunk I don't know if I'd recognize the difference.

    • What I'd like to see is the ability buy a BIG box of these babies. Like a shoe-box full. All exactly alike in taste, look, feel, smell, etc. Except 25% of them have 100% tobacco, 25% are at 58%, 25% are at 17%, and 25% are at 0.

      That would work well for me.

      Maybe they could even sell shoeboxes full with different proportions.
  • by Rob.Mathers (527086) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:20PM (#5177338) Homepage
    Although this is probably a good thing (even though you're killing yourself, you're doing it without addiction), I think there may be an overlooked aspect here.
    Considering how uninformed the typical consumer is, I fear this could result in a rise in the number of smokers. When Joe Sixpack is browsing through his local 7 Eleven and sees a pack of cigs with "Nicotine Free" on the box, what if he thinks "Hey, I can smoke without harming myself" and takes up smoking. I think this is not an inconceivable situation. I would hope that these things come with additional warnings stating that while they do not contain addictive nicotine, they are still cancer causing.
    • Actually, there's a news release on the Vector website that states that mice who smoked the cigs have fewer tumors than the mice who smoke Camels. Ok, actually it's some kind of topical skin application test, but smoking mice would be cool. Why can't they engineer those? Text of the news release follows: 06.27.2002 Study Shows That OMNI(TM) Causes Significantly Fewer Tumors in Mice Than Leading Cigarette Brand New York, June 27, 2002 - Vector Group Ltd. (NYSE: VGR) announced today that its reduced carcinogen cigarette, Omni, produced significantly fewer skin tumors in laboratory mice than the leading national brand in the Dermal Tumor Induction (or "Skin Painting") test, according to preliminary results. The skin painting test was the first test to demonstrate the link between cigarette "tar" and cancer and is among the tests currently relied on by watchdog government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to determine the carcinogenic potential of substances in the environment like tobacco smoke. The test, currently being conducted by a nationally recognized independent laboratory, treated 40 mice with the smoke condensate of Omni and 40 mice with the smoke condensate of the leading national brand. The latest test results show that 68% of the mice treated with the smoke condensate of the leading brand developed tumors compared to 20% of the Omni group mice - a 70% reduction. "We're absolutely thrilled with these test results. Although more research is required, we believe these results demonstrate that production of a proven, reduced risk cigarette is quite realistic," said Bennett S. LeBow, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vector Group. "To date, we have refrained from claiming any health benefit from smoking Vector's Omni cigarettes. However, it is ultimately our hope to market a product that is represented to be less hazardous than the most commonly smoked cigarettes on the market today. While we agree with the public health community that abstinence is the only safe alternative to smoking, we believe that something must be done for the 50 million Americans, and hundreds of millions worldwide, who do smoke. Given this exciting scientific finding and potential breakthrough, we implore the public health community to provide immediate support to our efforts to further develop a less hazardous smoking alternative." Dr. Tony Albino, Vice-President for Public Health Affairs, stated, "The results of the skin painting test are highly encouraging and lend support to our contention that reducing carcinogens in tobacco smoke is a viable approach toward reducing cigarettes' potential to cause cancer. The skin painting test is considered fundamentally important by the scientific community in determining whether an inhaled substance, like tobacco smoke, is likely to cause cancer in humans. And, despite the fact that the direct relationship between tumor formation in mouse skin and in human lung is not yet completely understood, this test has been used by scientists at the EPA to assign relative human lung cancer risks to a wide range of carcinogens including cigarette smoke." Dr. Albino added, "We believe that these preliminary results show that our technology is on the right track." Vector Tobacco has developed a proprietary process in which regular tobacco is treated with a complex catalytic system, thereby significantly reducing the levels of certain carcinogens and other toxins. Additionally, Omni employs the use of an innovative carbon filter, which reduces harmful organic compounds in smoke, yet has no impact on premium taste. Vector Tobacco is committed to continuing its research to find new, innovative ways to further reduce carcinogens and other substances as well. For more information on Omni cigarettes please visit www.omnicigs.com or call 1-866-639-OMNI. Vector Group is a holding company that indirectly owns Liggett Group Inc., Vector Tobacco Inc., and a controlling interest in New Valley Corporation.
  • by Graspee_Leemoor (302316) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:21PM (#5177345) Homepage Journal
    This is nothing new really. For decades you have been able to get "herbal tobacco" which contains no nicotine. Some dope smokers roll joints with it to avoid getting hooked on nicotine. The actual point of it is the same as the point of these "nicotine free" cigs- to get you unhooked.

    I personally prefer using nicotine patches- so it's the other way around- nicotine and no smoking habit.

    The reason it's better is that you get rid of the withdrawel symptoms because you are getting nicotine, you aren't breathing smoke so it's better for your lungs- and you can use public transport and walk into shops without having to have a quick cig first- which is an actual bonus to giving up.

    I find people who give up by using, say, nicotine gum or lonzenges have an easier time to start with because they get a nicotine buzz, and there's a new ritual to replace the old one, but then a harder time getting from the replacement to nothing at all, as they haven't kicked the "ritual" part of smoking, or the nicotine delivered once per hour (or whatever).

    The only benefit of nicotine free cigs compared to the existing "herbal tobacco" if that's the way you want to go, is that the herbal tobacco cigarettes normally smell so bad that they clear out rooms- even of people who quite happily tolerate ordinary cigarette smoke.

    graspee

  • by cygnus (17101) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:24PM (#5177370) Homepage
    With the Quest, nicotine dependency can for the first time be separated from the ritual. Once the addiction is addressed, smokers will have an easier time breaking the habit.

    subject says it all... why don't we worry about weaning the cancer-causing part of the habit first? there are few side effects to a typical dosage of nicotine, but many to typical dosages of cigarette smoke (and attendant formaldahyde, ammonia, dioxine, urine, and whatever else they put into cigarettes).

  • Bah (Score:3, Funny)

    by Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:24PM (#5177378)
    Forget cigarettes... smoke a salmon.
  • by The Wookie (31006) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:26PM (#5177389)
    The picture at the bottom of the article has the following caption:

    An Amish farmer takes a cell phone call as transgenic tobacco dries inside his 250-year-old barn in Holland, Pennsylvania.

    Wonder what he uses for a ringer? Maybe a knock and a voice saying "Jedediah, thee has a call".

    Come to think of it.. how does he recharge the thing?
  • These will kill you just as well as normal ciggeretttes, but they just don't have any nicotine, which is the addictive part. There are three steps you can use, to actually kick your chemical addiction. Once that is done you can concentrate on your oral fixation problems.

    I think a big place that this will help is people that like to go out to bars and are around second hand smoke and just want a cigg really bad. It'll kill you, but they won't wake up in the morning craving one as bad I bet.

    I also like that the guy admits to the fact that he's in it for the money, a little honesty in the tobacco industry is a bit of a relief.
  • Did they catch on? I remember the new stories when they came out but I never saw them anywhere.
  • Amish Geneticists (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZahrGnosis (66741) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:27PM (#5177402) Homepage
    I'm not at the forefront of the changes in the Amish community or anything, but doesn't the phrase "genetically engineered tobacco grown by Amish farmers" seem a bit odd?
  • These days everything is subject to a patent, copyright or some other IP monopoly grant. Genetically modified organisms are just aimed at *NOT* being able to breed normally. All other "enhancements" are marketing tricks, exactely like the push for new versions of office software. Then you have to buy seeds/babies year after year if you want to grow them.

    Welcome to a customer-locked world.

  • by t0qer (230538) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:29PM (#5177420) Homepage Journal
    I've been a smoke for many years, I remember my nicotine addiction starting at 8 when my old man use to let me grab a pinch of beechnut. I remember feeling like crap and being addicted to it for a while, then later on quitting, then becoming addicted to cigerettes at 10 when I went to live with my mom.

    So here I am, over 20 years of putting this crap in my body.. The sad thing is when I don't have it.

    First sign is nervousness, agitation. Then I go into cold sweats as my body excretes tar and nicotine out from my pours. Third stage i'm rollin up butts from the ashtray.

    For those of you that don't understand the nature of addiction, let me tell you, I go through it every night. At least when I sleep, I have nothing to agitate me, but I still go through the physical withdrawel symptoms every night, proof of which is washing the sheets every 3 to 4 days to take out the yellow stain from my tar infused sweat.

    I hate cigs, they are a tax on my life and my health, and I feel that the addictive traits of nicotine has been played down to avoid lawsuits. I've even developed shakes at times, no different than any heroin junkie.

    I tried quittin new years cold turkey. I just bought a carton of marlboro reds today for 30 bucks. Previously I tried patches, gum, and hypnosis.

    I have heard of anesthetic therapy for herion users. Sorry for no link but I remember seeing it on dateline NBC, search there produced too many results. The premise is simple, hook a needle up to the patients arm with a drip bag of sodium penathol and let them sleep through their withdrawels.

    As neat as this genetic amish tobacco sounds, it just won't cut it for people who have been smoking as long as I have. Over 2/3's of my life I've had this shit running through my brain. I need rest.
    • Indeed nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the entire world, perhaps second only to herion.
      I started smoking in 7th grade. I continued smoking until I was 22, then quit. Cold turkey, It lasted 11 months. Then I meet this girl, start dating. She is a social smoker, only smokes at the clubs and such, she helps me become additiced again.
      I smoked until I was 24 (minus the 11 month interlude). Now I am 26 and a non smoker for 2 years. If you are wondering how I did it? Well the answer is will power and my wanting to breathe. See I have asthma, I wasnt born with it, I got it from smoking. Try not being able to breathe. This is all the motivation you will ever need. Dont give up on quiting. It gets easier every time. My grandmother smoked for over 50 years and kicked the habbit, so can you. Good luck man!
    • by unicron (20286) <unicron@ t h c n e t . net> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @08:32PM (#5178252) Homepage
      Not to be a dick, but you don't want to quit. You have to want to. I'm a smoker, and I enjoy it. It's more social than anything else. Hell, in 5 years time I'll just have em whip me up a few new organs so that angles covered. I do it because I get my halo on with a friends for a few hours then we walk outside. It's social, and I get my best conversations in at that time. I'd rather live 50 years how I want than 60 years living how I should.

      As for addiction, I used to know a group of guys that were all heroin junkies. Ok guys when they were clean, but when they had to have that fix, they were rough to be around. One of them used to quit cold-turkey for 6 months at a time to clean himself up, and he was so determined to look hard around us, I never once saw him withdrawling..that's some friggin willpower.
  • The Point is... (Score:4, Informative)

    by GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) <curt.johnson@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:30PM (#5177428) Homepage
    to help you quit... RTFA.
    They have 3 brands that each have a lower amount of nicotine kind of like the patch has 3 different levels to systematically lower the amount of nicotine you recieve.

    It makes it so you choose whether or not to smoke, not to feed a nicotine addiction. This guy not only plans to make an ass-load of cash, but to give his customer's choice and reform the tobacco industry. Quite frankly, this guy should get the Nobel Peace Prize or something.

    BTW, you can get cartons for ~$20 each online. So if anyone wants an easy way to quit, Drive Thru Smoke Shop [drivethrusmokeshop.com]
  • Smokers are our nation's greatest citizens. Not only do they generate billions of dollars in state and local taxes with their tobacco purchases, they save the federal government still more billions by "removing" themselves from the Social Security System, on average, a decade or so earlier than other, less civic-minded Americans.

    But, now, it appears that irresponsible genetic engineering threatens to eliminate an entire generation of such patriotic puffers.

    Shame on science and shame on the Amish!
  • I thought nicotine was a pesticide (If I'm wrong you can blame "molecule" in Xscreensaver). There is no need to genetically engineer anything, merely avoid the use of pesticides.
  • by kippy (416183)
    I'm willing to bet that blind studies, people will have as difficult a time quitting from these are from regular smokes.

    I'm really interested to see the outcome of an addiction study where two groups are given these nicotine free smokes and one group is told that they are smoking regular ones.

    This is pure speculation here but I'm betting that the mere thought of them being addictive is enough to make them "addicted".

    Similarly, I'd like to see if people who thought they were smoking nicotine free cigarettes have an easier time quitting even if they are smoking regular ones.

    depending on how such a study turns out, big tobacco could tell all those bozos to take all their lawsiuts and shove them.
  • Oopsie? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:38PM (#5177479) Journal
    Hypothetically speaking, what would happen if this strand got into the wild?

    Not being a smoker, I'd think it hilarious if a large portion of the tobacco crop ended up tainted with the "phony" tobacco. Just on the principle of the matter.

    Phillip Morris would have a collective heart attack if their biggest profit maker became non-additive!
    =Smidge=
  • David Letterman said it best about decaf cofee:

    "Its usless warm brown water"

    Nicotine-free cigs? Why not just suck on an exhaust pipe? ;- )
  • by andres32a (448314) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:41PM (#5177500) Homepage
    Nicotine free cigarretes have been tried before... and it went really bad. The book BARBARIANS AT THE GATE mentions how RJR Nabisco once tried it an have a marketing test which got a 95% percent response: "IT TAKES LIKE SHIT".
    People are not cigarrete addicted. People are nicotine adicted. With no nicotine, every smoker will just about give the same response.
  • cigarettes don't nicotine free you...BUT, in Japan there have been plastic cigarette looking things that are actually breath-freshners. The concept is that the act of holding something and even being able to suck on it will help wean you off cigarettes.


    Just sounds better to me.

  • Ahhhh (Score:5, Funny)

    by mao che minh (611166) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:55PM (#5177595) Journal
    Ahhh, killing yourself slowly and horribly with none of the satisfaction associated with the real thing. It's like just eating what's in the grease trough of a Foreman grill and throwing the hamburger away.
  • That's great but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Marqis (197235) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:57PM (#5177600) Homepage

    what we really need is a stink-free and smoke-free cigarette so us non-smokers can go out to a club without having to throw away our clothes the next day.

    I'm praying they pass the smoke-free law here in Calgary, Canada.

  • by Mr. Asdf (267041) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:02PM (#5177637) Homepage
    most smokers who try to quit end up starting to smoke again days, weeks, or even months later- long after the nicotine addiction has passed. this is due to a psychological addiction which is usually much stronger than the physical addiction to nicotine. this product does not really address this issue, and IMHO, might cause people to smoke more, since they won't be experiencing the nicotine which they need to "take the edge off" of a stressful situation.
    • A lot of ex-smokers start up again because they just plain miss having a smoke. Not SMOKING, but having *a* smoke. If it was the nicotine they wanted, there's gum/lozenges/patches/chew. Yet most ex-smokers end up lighting up.

      I know I'd kill for a 'safe' smoke - one that I can have, without the danger of becoming hooked again - just to see if it's as bad as it seems now (smell, taste, etc). And just to safely re-live that wonderful 5 minute ritual.
  • by teslatug (543527) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:02PM (#5177638)
    *cue deep, addicted-cow voice*

    T-O-M-A-C-C-O
  • by tshak (173364) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:28PM (#5177873) Homepage
    The problem with the poison in unnatural cigarettes is the chemicals that enhance the addictive qualities of nicotine. If you smoke a Cigar or Nat Sherman natural cigarette you are far less likely to become physically dependant. The real problem, of course, is the habitual nature of smoking.
  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:30PM (#5177884) Homepage Journal

    Start smoking a pipe! There are several brands of pipe tobacco that can deliver a mean nicotine hit purely through the membranes of the mouth, and they taste good to boot.

    Also, even though pipe-smoking is not entirely risk free, its harmful effects get lost in the noise of modern life. The common joke is that pipe-smoking is as bad as eating red meat. Doing the latter in excess will increase your chances of cardiovascular problems, but in moderation it is not harmful. So also with pipe-smoking.

    And finally, the smell of quality tobacco is generally considered nice by non-smokers, unless you smoke really heavy aromatics.

    So drop those ciggies, and pick up a pipe!

    Mart (happy pipe smoker)
  • by leek (579908) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:37PM (#5177923)
    In related news, Non-smokers could find themselves being prescribed nicotine patches to combat Alzheimer's disease [theglobeandmail.com]

    To me it is folly to tie the health effects of tobacco, good or bad, with public policy [reason.com].

    Individuals should be free to smoke, but be held responsible for the natural consequences. This holds for "good tobacco" or "bad tobacco", as well as other drugs.

    (Full disclosure: Non-smoker. Ex-smoker, but not against smoking where permitted by property owners.)

  • Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by BitHive (578094) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:42PM (#5177954) Homepage
    I expect these will do about as well on the market as amphetamine-free speed, and nudity-free porn.
  • by NetGyver (201322) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:52PM (#5178021) Journal
    Really, it is, it'll help those who are trying to quit by first removing the nicotine out of the cigarettes. Then get the "patch" or something and wean yourself off that way. As your weaning yourself off the nicotine itself, you can still smoke these nicotine free cigarettes, and you can then start to wean yourself from the habit of smoking them.

    Normally, when a person wants to quit, they get the patch or something simular and stop buying and smoking cigarettes. You have to give up the act of smoking (which is roughly 50% of the addiction usually) and then simultaniously ween yourself from the nicotine at the _same_ time. With the other process i described above, you can make this a two step approch instead of one leap. It may make it easier for people to quit.

    In any case, I smoke. The kind of cigarettes you buy in the store have TONS AND TONS of additive chemicals they use in making them. [customblends.com] So to get rid of oh, about 600 chemicals that are NOT needed, I decided not to buy cigarettes from the store. I roll my own with bags of tobacco and filter tubes. I'm willing to wager you could link a major health problem to one of those additive chemicals, if not more.

    The additives are their to to make the cigarette burn faster. If they burn faster, you smoke more, you smoke more, you get more addicted, and thus buy more cigarettes. Since i've started rolling my own, I've noticed i smoked far less then I did with store bought cigs.

    That and PA got anal with the cigarette taxing, and jacked up the prices of cigs in the state. Needless to say many of people just decided to roll their own like me, it's far cheaper anyway.

    Now if they made nicotine-free bagged tobacco for use in rolling your own, i believe this would be the best bet in quitting. Your removing about 600 additive chemicals and the nicotine all in one shot. What's left is just the tobacco itself to wean yourself from gradually. Personally, i'm looking forward to this coming to market. ...must quit...dammit :)
  • by rleibman (622895) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:53PM (#5178026) Homepage
    I would never put in my body something genetically engineered, think of the damage it could cause me.
    Heck, it may give me cancer for all I know.
  • why it won't work (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brer_rabbit (195413) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @09:15PM (#5178467) Journal
    I've heard that the physical addiction to nicotine is gone after 3 days (sorry, no sources available). After three days the addiction is purely psychological. It's known that the psychological addiction is a lot harder to break than the physical. Having a lit cigarette in hand, whether or not it contains nicotine, is not going to do much to ween off the psychological addiction.
  • by sawilson (317999) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @11:52PM (#5179318) Homepage
    So I read the story and went to GIANT and bought a
    pack. I'm smoking one right now. It's kinda hard to
    describe what it's like, but I just ordered a carton
    of them. I bought the Quest3, or "Nicotene Free"
    variety. It's about as light as a marlboro
    ultralight, but the flavor is, IMHO, better. There
    is something missing. Cigarettes usually have a
    "bite" to them. Like a sharp edge that's part of
    the flavor. It's completely gone. It actually
    (IMHO again) makes them taste better. The problem
    is that collective bite is what keeps me from
    picking up another smoke in 10 minutes. I can see
    smoking a lot more of these than the ultralights
    I normally smoke. But if after a few weeks I'm
    over the nicotene addiction, it will be worth it.
    I'm very impressed with this product.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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