Introduction: The tobacco industry has developed technologies to reduce the aversive qualities of cigarette smoke, including secondhand smoke (SHS). While these product design changes may lessen concerns about SHS, they may not reduce health risks associated with SHS exposure. Tobacco industry patents were reviewed to understand recent industry strategies to mask or minimize cigarette smoke from traditional cigarettes. Methods: Patent records published between 1997 and 2008 that related to cigarette smoke were conducted using key word searches. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web site was used to obtain patent awards, and the World Intellectual Property Organization's Patentscope and Free Patents Online web sites were used to search international patents. Results: The search identified 106 relevant patents published by Japan Tobacco Incorporated, British America Tobacco, Philip Morris International, and other tobacco manufacturers or suppliers. The patents were classified by their intended purpose, including reduced smoke constituents or quantity of smoke emitted by cigarettes (58%, n = 62), improved smoke odor (25%, n = 26), and reduced visibility of smoke (16%, n = 18). Innovations used a variety of strategies including trapping or filtering smoke constituents, chemically converting gases, adding perfumes, or altering paper to improve combustion. Conclusions: The tobacco industry continues to research and develop strategies to reduce perceptions of cigarette smoke, including the use of additives to improve smoke odor. Surveillance and regulatory response to industry strategies to reduce perceptions of SHS should be implemented to ensure that the public health is adequately protected.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health