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Major tobacco companies have technology to reduce carcinogen levels but do not apply it to popular smokeless tobacco products
  1. Stephen S Hecht,
  2. Irina Stepanov,
  3. Dorothy K Hatsukami
  1. Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to Stephen S Hecht, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, MMC 806, 420 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA; hecht002{at}

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In 2006, Reynolds American, Inc (RAI), a major tobacco company, purchased the American Snuff Company, LLC (formerly Conwood Company), manufacturer of the moist snuff products Grizzly and Kodiak. In January 2009, Altria Group, Inc (the parent company of Philip Morris USA), one of the world's largest tobacco companies, acquired the United States Smokeless Tobacco Company (USST), manufacturer of the popular moist snuff products Copenhagen and Skoal, sales of which totalled over 540 million cans in 2009. Smokeless tobacco is carcinogenic to humans, causing oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer.1 2 It has been known since the 1970s that smokeless tobacco products such as Copenhagen and Skoal contain relatively high levels of the carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines N′-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK), themselves considered human carcinogens.2 The …

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  • Funding Our research on smokeless tobacco is supported by grants CA-81301, CA-141531, CA-1135884, and DA-013333 from the US National Institutes of Health.

  • Competing interests SSH is a witness for the plaintiff in a smokeless tobacco case. DKH has a grant from Nabi Biopharmaceuticals to conduct a clinical trial for the nicotine vaccine.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.