R&D at PMI

Developing products which may have the potential to reduce the risks of smoking-related diseases is one of our top priorities. To address this multifaceted challenge, our Research and Development Department includes a team of scientists with expertise across a range of disciplines including biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and computing.

Our research efforts are directed toward understanding the underlying mechanisms of the diseases caused by smoking and the complex role of tobacco smoke constituents in the development of these diseases. 

An important aspect of our research is the development of methods to assess a product’s risk reduction potential. This is a very complex task, given the fact that most smoking-related diseases take years, if not decades, to develop. 

These research efforts complement our support of regulation in the area of risk assessment. Reduced risk products should require manufacturers to provide regulators with scientific data to substantiate any claims.

Our aim is to provide consumers with the option of reduced risk products. However, smokers should understand that these products are not an alternative to quitting, and that the best way to reduce the risk of smoking-related diseases is to give up smoking.

Smoke and Smoke Constituents

A key focus area of our research and development program is on preventing the formation or reducing the levels of toxic chemical compounds produced during the burning of tobacco in a cigarette. More than 5,000 smoke constituents (or emissions) have been identified in tobacco smoke to date. Approximately 100 smoke constituents  have been identified as likely causes of smoking-related diseases by public health authorities. We agree with many scientists, including public health experts, that selective reduction of smoke compounds in conventional lit-end cigarettes is unlikely to reduce risk. Therefore, we have focused on the development of new, next generation products (NGP’s) that either substantially reduce or completely eliminate many harmful smoke constituents. 

The Tobacco Plant

The tobacco plant is a complex biological system. The properties of the plant are the results of the interaction of the plant with the external environment (e.g., soil, climate, agricultural practices, and the leaf-curing process). Although many of the harmful substances in smoke are produced by the burning process and are not present in the leaf, tobacco plants can contain harmful substances such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA’s) or the heavy metal cadmium that can transfer to smoke when tobacco is burned. We are focused on preventing the formation of these harmful compounds in tobacco plants through various plant breeding and agronomic practices.

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