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Next-generation flavor technologies


Flavors are traditionally added to tobacco or to cigarette paper, where they are then burned with the tobacco column in an attempt to enhance the tobacco flavor, mask unpleasant odor, and deliver a pleasant cigarette pack aroma. However, the tobacco industry pursued a wide range of newer nonconventional flavor technologies to address the goal of unique flavor delivery. Researchers of RJR’s Project CT (New Cigarette Taste/Sensation) recognized that “conventional products fall short on satisfying ideal smoker wants” in the area of new taste and/or sensation.

Industry patents and patent applications describe a range of new technologies to deliver flavors for use in tobacco products. For example, a 2001 U.S. patent awarded to RJR describes substances that can be used as cigarette filter additives in the form of polyethylene strands or as cigarette wrapper or packaging additives. A 2003 patent awarded to B&W describes a flip-open box with micro-encapsulated flavor release. RJR patents highlight technology including pellets and low- and high-density rods inserted in cigarette filters that contain smoke-modifying agents such as flavorants and provide for well-controlled flavor delivery.

New flavor delivery systems were hypothesized to be more effective than traditional top-dressing methods (that is, flavors added directly to the tobacco) by increasing stability, consistency, and shelf life. For example, filter flavor delivery systems may impart flavors more efficiently because the flavors are not altered by combustion. A 1986 document ascribes a variety of other advantages to “new generation” flavor-enhancing technologies including selective placement within the cigarette and controlled (timed) release.

In a 1988 RJR report identifying young adult smokers as RJR’s “most critical strategic need,” product concepts targeted at smokers ages 18–24 included after-taste, tobacco satisfaction, and menthol aftertaste and aroma. The product technology proposed to address these areas included nonconventional methods such as polymer pellet technology (PPT). A flavored pellet (polyethylene bead) inserted in the filter was designed to provide controlled release of flavor for delivery to the smoker.

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