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1980s 'safer cigarette' research opposed: former executive  

Former Imperial Tobacco Canada president testifies in class-action lawsuit
Jump to full article: CBC News (ca), 2012-05-03

Intro:

A former president of Imperial Tobacco Canada says the company's largest shareholder attempted to stop an effort to develop safer cigarettes.

Jean-Louis Mercier testified Thursday in the $2-billion class-action lawsuit against Canada's tobacco industry, which was launched by Quebec smokers.

Mercier said in the 1980s he came up with an idea after reading a report by the surgeon general of the United States. The report found tar and nicotine were among the cancer-causing agents in cigarettes.

The former president said he figured cigarettes would become safer if they contained lower amounts of the two carcinogens, so he spearheaded an internal study to try to develop a safer cigarette.

But Mercier said Imperial Tobacco Canada's largest shareholder, British American Tobacco, opposed the effort. He said BAT's chairman at the time sent a letter indicating ITC's research was risky.

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