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Nicotine is the active pharmacological agent in tobacco products.1,2 The interaction of this alkaloid with nicotinic receptors in the central nervous system is the pharmacological basis for its addictive qualities. The chemical dependence regularly produced by nicotine results in prolonged exposure to the many toxic materials found in tobacco and tobacco smoke.3 These exposures lead, in turn, to the burden of illness and death caused by tobacco.4
A major underlying problem with tobacco products is that their production and use became entrenched in the US economy and society well before their dangers were understood. As a result the industry has, with only limited exceptions, been able to block federal legislative and regulatory actions that would otherwise have been brought to bear on such toxic products (see appendix).
This paper summarises existing knowledge about tobacco products in the United States relevant to regulatory issues, discusses questions for policy research in this area, and proposes a research agenda to advance public policy. The major objective of this research agenda is to support increased regulation of tobacco products.
[W]e would like you to think of Research and Development as an originator, developer, and tester of the technological weapons system that underlies and protects company policies, particularly in the area of smoking and health. Obviously, without an adequate weapons system, strategy is severely limited... Our most important defensive weapons are in the category of product development. Here the company and industry are facing two clearly discernible trends, both of them arising from the smoking and health controversy. The first of these is the continuing demand to make cigarets (sic) milder and milder, in effect to lower the tar and nicotine delivery per cigaret... The second trend is the intensifying pressure to develop a “safe” cigaret.DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, PHILIP MORRIS, in comments to the company’s board of directors, mid-1970s
For nearly 40 years, …