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Scientist Claims Cigarette Makers Avoided Safer Smokes

WASHINGTON -- A former Philip Morris scientist testified that for years, top cigarette makers have chosen not to make their products safer despite having the knowledge to do so, reported the Associated Press.

William Farone, a chemist who directed applied research at Philip Morris from 1976 to 1984, testified Wednesday in the government's racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

As director of applied research, Farone said he spent about 80 percent of his time researching methods to reduce the health risks of cigarettes. Cigarette companies control the content of smoke through filter design, selection and processing of tobacco and additives, the placement of ventilation holes and other technical means, Farone testified.

It's possible to make cigarettes with virtually no tar or nicotine and to strip out certain cancer-causing chemicals, he testified. Farone said the industry should have done more to remove suspected carcinogens, "some of them known since the '50s," he said.

Under a procedure dictated by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, Farone submitted 182 pages of direct, written testimony last week. He spent most of the Wednesday under cross-examination by Dan Webb, a lawyer for Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA unit.

Webb got Farone to acknowledge that tobacco companies successfully lowered nicotine and tar levels in cigarettes over the years and brought those products to the market.

Webb also noted that the companies put numerous cigarettes on the market with different kinds of filters or ventilation holes, which can reduce the toxins smokers inhale.
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