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Nicotine-Free Cigs, Genetically Engineered 547

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 @06:06PM (#5177229)
    I already read all this stuff. The magazine is sitting in my restroom collecting dust. I trust slashdot to get me news that isn't a rehash of the Wired periodical weeks after the issue has come out.
  • 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 jimlintott ( 317783 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:20PM (#5177340) Homepage
    That would be hemp. Except you don't smoke it. You make paper, rope, cloth and all kinds of wonderful products. Too bad it's illegal to grow in most places.

  • by purplebear ( 229854 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:26PM (#5177397)
    Perhaps this could the innovation that makes it easier to quit smoking.
    The article states it's a three step solution:
    Quest 1 = 17% less nicotine
    Quest 2 = 58% less
    Quest 3 = nicotine free

    Except, it looks as though they haven't quite gotten there yet. From the Vector Tobacco website:

    Virtual Elimination of Nicotine
    Scientists have determined that nicotine is the addictive element in cigarettes. Nicotine is an alkaloid that naturally occurs in tobacco. Alkaloids are complex, nitrogen containing compounds that naturally occur in plants, and have pharmacological effects in humans.

    Vector Tobacco has the rights to a proprietary process that virtually eliminates nicotine from tobacco. Vector Tobacco's virtually nicotine-free process represents the first successful attempt to significantly lower nicotine in the tobacco leaf by growing tobacco plants bred to block nicotine production. While tobacco from an initial crop registered a trace level of nicotine, the company's goal is to grow tobacco with undetectable levels of nicotine.

    Many scientists in the field believe virtual elimination of nicotine content is an important and much-needed step in the market for tobacco products.

    So, it appears there will still be nicotine. You may just end up smoking more in the long run.
    You still have to have mental discipline to quit.
  • The Point is... (Score:4, Informative)

    by GOD_ALMIGHTY ( 17678 ) <> 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 []
  • 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 [] The Amish: Technology [] The Amish Get Wired. The Amish? [] Amish FAQ []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:32PM (#5177444)
    He says the cigs will be sold as a three-part series containing 17%, 54% and then 100% less nicotine. By mixing the nicotine-free tobacco with ordinary, they can make it have *less* while still giving you your fix. So you can work your way off of the nicotine slowly without having to give up the habit. It's like having a patch, and smoking at the same time.

    It may not be *quite* as enjoyable as the real thing, but it's a hell of a lot easier to force yourself to buy a pack with 17% less nicotine than to go cold turkey.
  • Re:Wait.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by mckayc ( 307712 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:40PM (#5177493)
    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:2, Informative)

    by lubricated ( 49106 ) <> on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @06:54PM (#5177584)
    You are misinformed about Michelob Ultra beer. That beer isn't about low calories, but about low carbs. Many people on an atkins type diet appreciate this. Usually they have to take Vodka shots.
  • Re:Alcohol-free beer (Score:2, Informative)

    by bmwm3nut ( 556681 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:01PM (#5177629)
    i think you'll have a very hard time finding a good alcohol free beer. Above 5% or so alcohol content the alcohol becomes part of the flavor of the beer. if you notice (at least from my perspective) the best beer that you get at a brew pub and such are also the ones with high alcohol content. especially the 10-14% imperial stouts (just my opinion there). so i think it'll be impossible to find a beer that has no alcohol, yet still has a good flavor like all the other high alcohol beers.
  • by Nefrayu ( 601593 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:08PM (#5177695) Homepage
    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 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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @07:47PM (#5177982)
    Unfortunately, your basic premise here is simply wrong. Controlled studies of preference for different cigarettes composed using the same variety (and batch) of tobacco, but with differing amounts of added nicotine, consistently demonstrate that what smokers usually label "taste" is almost completely an effect of nicotine concentration.

    High nicotine cigarettes "taste" better to the smoker, and low nicotine cigarettes "taste" much worse to the smoker. Whether these smokes will buck the trend remains to be seen, but it is very likely that the habituated smoker will perceive them as tasting extremely poor in comparison with their preferred brand.

    Unfortunately, vaporized nicotine alone does not show this same taste gradient, so vaporizing pharmacuetical grade nicotine is not likely to satisfy the inveterate smoker, although it would save them their lungs, unlike these cigarettes.
  • 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. [] 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 :)
  • 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! :(
  • Re:Just smoke Pot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wraithlyn ( 133796 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2003 @09:49PM (#5178686)
    Boy are you clueless. Go back to the 1930's and get a job with William Randolph Hearst, he's got some tabloid articles for you to write.

    You know why pot is really illegal? It's because HEMP threatens the profits of the industrialists. You can make any grade of paper with it. It's the toughest natural fibre aside from spider silk. You can run a car on hemp oil. People could be growing gas in their backyards. Can't have that! Dubya's family has been heavily into oil for decades. Step up the War on Drugs! No conflict of interest here, move along.

    In 1937, when marijuana was banned, the American Medical Association OPPOSED it. They had been prescribing it safely for over a hundred years.

    Every [] scientific [] study [] of marijuana [] has concluded that it is substantially less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol. Very recently, a senate committee here in Canada which studied it in depth, recommended [] unanimously to the government that pot is far less dangerous than smoking and drinking, and should be regulated accordingly.

    Perhaps, gram for gram, there are more carcinogens in marijuana than tobacco. So what? People smoke far less pot than cigarettes, because pot is not chemically addictive. I've been smoking pot regularly for about 8 years. You know how much I smoke now? A small pipe bowl when I get home from work, and maybe a shared joint when my roommate gets home. Now compare that to a smoker who measures their habit in packs per day, and is only getting worse.

    "There is why pot is illegial [...] I can tell by your wording that you are a pothead"

    I can tell by your wording that you make the average pothead look pretty bright.
  • 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.

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