CEO Club Briefing

Problem with Cigarettes

Excerpt from remarks to the Boston College Chief Executives Club  

May 3, 2019

TAKEAWAY: Problem with Cigarettes

It's combustion that is the problem—and combustion is the problem in tobacco.

Nicotine is addictive, but it’s not—it’s the least of the problems in causing disease and premature death. It’s the fact that when you take this rod and you light it up, the part that you see being red is the part that decomposes organic matter completely into carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Unfortunately, smokers inhale the carbon, but that doesn’t create any other problem. It’s the zone behind that that is about 500 degrees—and I’m sorry, I’m talking Centigrade here, not Fahrenheit, so I cannot—I was reminded this by some look over there. So at these kind of temperatures, organic matter changes and recomposes. For example, sugars can become formaldehydes or benzopyrene. And these things are carcinogenic, but they are also smelling and tasting nicely. When you do caramel at home with sugar, that’s exactly what you smell—polycyclic carbohydrates.

So the answer to the problem of cigarettes, for the people who don’t want, or they cannot or whatever—they don’t quit—is to offer products that do not combust, that hit tobacco at lower temperatures, or have a liquid, like any vapor product with propylene glycol and glycerin inside, to which you add nicotine and some flavoring, to pure aerosols that don’t even hit. But that’s the solution, and we’ve been working on this for many, many years before. But most people believe that the problem is tobacco, is nicotine. I’m not saying they are innocuous, but the real problem is combustion. And the FDA recognizes this, and many other regulatory bodies and a wide body of science.