Tobacco Companies

Focused on Women

Tobacco companies did elaborate research on women to figure out how to hook them on smoking -- even toying with the idea of chocolate-flavored cigarettes that would curb appetite, according to a new analysis.

Researchers at Harvard University's School of Public Health said they examined more than 7 million documents -- some dating back to 1969, others as recent as 2000 -- for new details about the industry's efforts to lure more women smokers.

A Philip Morris spokesman declined to comment on the report, was published in the June issue of the journal Addiction.

The Harvard researchers spent more than a year sifting through an online database of internal documents made public following the 1998 settlement between tobacco companies and 46 states.

Carrie Carpenter, the study's lead author, said they found at least 320 documents that focused on women's smoking patterns.

Other internal studies showed that companies explored adding appetite suppressants to cigarettes. In 1980, for instance, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. proposed creating a cigarette with a "unique flavor that decreases a smoker's appetite, including brandy, chocolate, chocolate mint, cinnamon, spearmint and honey."

But researchers did not find any evidence they followed through with that idea.

Hurricane Season

Expected to Be Active

The Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season, which begins today, promises to be "very active," marked by an above-average number of storms and with high odds of a major hit on the United States, a researcher said yesterday.

Colorado State University professor William Gray and his research team expect 15 tropical storms, with eight of those growing to hurricane strength during the six-month storm season, which runs to Nov. 30. They expect four storms to strengthen into intense hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater, which can cause extensive damage.

The revised estimate in Gray's final preseason forecast was up from 13 storms and seven hurricanes initially predicted in his April forecast. The revision was based in part on a decreased likelihood of the development of an El Nino, a periodic warming of the equatorial Pacific waters that tends to suppress hurricane formation in the Atlantic.

Air Pollution May Pose

Hazard for Diabetics

People with diabetes may face a higher risk of heart disease when air pollution levels rise, according to a study whose results were released yesterday.

The study of Boston area residents, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, found that blood vessels in people with diabetes did not dilate as easily on days when there were higher levels of airborne particles from traffic and coal-burning power plants. This reduction in blood flow control, known as "impaired vascular reactivity," has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other heart problems.

"We hope our study will remind people that reducing air pollution is important for everyone's health, but especially for vulnerable members of our population, including the elderly and people with chronic health problems such as diabetes," said Marie O'Neill, an epidemiologist with the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars program at the University of Michigan who led the study.

-- Compiled from reports

by staff writer Juliet Eilperin

and news services