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    Cigarettes Becoming More Deadly, Scientist Says

    A leading tobacco researcher says that preliminary data indicates that cigarette smokers face up to twice the risk of developing cancer than they did in the 1960s, the New York Times reported May 6.

    David M. Burns, M.D., said that even today’s so-called “low-tar” and “low-nicotine” cigarettes may be more hazardous than those used by earlier generations of smokers, according to data from an as-yet unpublished study.

    Presenting his findings at a recent meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, Burns said the difference may be that modern methods of curing tobacco — with nitrogen fertilizers and propane heaters rather than in the open air — increase the level of carcinogens called nitrosamines in tobacco products.

    The rate of the most common form of lung cancer among American men is higher than for male smokers in Australia, where tobacco is still air-cured.

    Burns said he was releasing his findings before the study was peer-reviewed and published because he wanted the information made public prior to a Congressional vote on giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products. However, his decision was questioned by some tobacco companies.

    “Dr. Burns is a well-known antismoking activist, and we are not surprised that such an abstract — for a study that has not been peer-reviewed — would be released at this time in order to try and support Congressional passage of the FDA bill,” said Lorillard spokesperson Michael W. Robinson.