"This catalyst we have developed for the Omni cigarette is certainly the biggest breakthrough in cigarette technology since, perhaps, the filter was introduced," said Dr. Robert Bereman of Vector Tobacco.
Part of the Liggett group, Vector Tobacco manufactures the Omni cigarette in Durham. The company makes no claims about whether the new smoke is safe, but researchers said they found lower levels of cancer-causing compounds.
"People shouldn't smoke. We would certainly like to see them quit smoking, but the Omni cigarette is designed for those people who can't or won't quit," Bereman said. "It'll reduce the risk of them in terms of cancer and a lot of other cigarette-caused diseases."
Deborah Bryan with the American Lung Association is not sold on the new product.
"You can't say less cancer is safe. If you have cancer, you have cancer. It's kind of like saying you are a little bit pregnant," she said.
Vector plans to make an entire line of cigarettes with reduced cancer-causing agents. The company also said Omni produces significantly fewer cancerous agents in second-hand smoke.