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Filter pellet technology and today’s cigarettes

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This past research on flavor technology was directly linked to the development of today’s flavored cigarettes. In 1994, an RJR researcher wrote: “We worked on this [high density polyethylene (HDPE) filter pellet] for Chelsea [brand] in 1989. …Sometimes old projects are worth recycling as the marketplace changes.” RJR used filter pellet technology under several projects (such as Fresh Aftertaste [FAT], New Cigarette Taste/Sensation [CT], and Tomorrow’s Female [TF]), many of which targeted young adult smokers
Early prototypes using embedded spearmint pellets increased the perceptions of sweetness in sidestream and exhaled mainstream smoke. In 1989, however, aging studies under Project TF indicated problems with flavor migration, and the pellet was not pursued beyond prototype testing. RJR revisited PPT in the early 1990s, exploring ways to deter flavor migration. By 1999 a flavored pellet filter prototype had been developed, which included traditional cocoa top dressing in combination with an orange-flavored high-density pellet.

Flavor filter pellets were a key technology enabling the introduction of a variety of “exotic” Camel flavors in 2000, pursued internally as the “Camel Twist Project.” A 2001 RJR document, prepared to respond to consumer inquiries regarding flavor delivery in the Camel Exotic Blends, describes the pellet as intended “to protect the flavor” and as made of “the same material that milk jugs are made of.” Although these pellets are not visible to the consumer, a physical examination of the filter confirms the placement of the pellet in certain Camel Exotic Blends such as Twist.
Camel Exotic Blends that contained a blue flavor-delivering pellet were Twist, Mandarin Mint, Izmir Singer, Dark Mint, and Aegean Spice. The pellets present in these different brands had the same appearance (color, size, and shape) and could not be distinguished with the naked eye.

Unfortunately, our review of internal documents identified few internal evaluations of the new product technologies used in recent flavored brands. In 2000, PM conducted a competitive subjective evaluation of certain Camel Exotic Blends (for example, Crema, Twist). Among the characteristics reported were consistently low impact and low or medium mouth and throat response, as well as specific points of product differentiation including sweet, creamy vanilla notes (Crema); citrus notes (Twist); low in tobacco character (Samsung); or nondistinctive, bland, and smooth (Rare). In 1996, RJR evaluated the possibility of accidental dislodging of the pellet with high air flow, finding that increased air volume reduced movement of the pellet. In earlier research (1987), precise placement of a polyethylene bead in the filter was recommended: “Optimal location is required in order to prevent possible inhalation of the intact bead by the consumer.”

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