New Weapon Against Tobacco

Tobacco is a difficult enemy to fight. More weapons are needed in the war against tobacco. Scientists at the Environmental Cancer Research Program at Northeastern University ( are building a new weapon against tobacco.

Question. What is the new weapon against tobacco?

Answer. The new weapon is detection technology that discovers unknown genotoxic (gene-damaging) chemicals. New weapon

Question. How does the new weapon work?

Answer. The detection technology weapon has two stages. In the first stage, DNA, the composition of genes, is used as bait to catch genotoxic chemicals. In the second stage, the captured chemicals are detected and identified in a chemical detection machine called a mass spectrometer. DNA makes a good bait since it is an important target in the body for many toxic chemicals such as those in tobacco smoke. Damage to DNA in the broadest sense is the basis of all cancer.

Question. What will the new weapon be aimed at?

Answer. The new weapon can be aimed at the genotoxic chemicals of tobacco at every stage of their action, from the starting tobacco products to the human tissues that are damaged in tobacco users and bystanders. This means that tobacco smoke, chewed tobacco extract, and blood or tissue samples from tobacco-exposed people can be analyzed for genotoxic tobacco chemicals with the new weapon.

Question. How will the new weapon fight tobacco?

Answer. Tobacco is harmful because it contains addictive and toxic chemicals. However, the details of the toxicity are not fully understood. The detection technology weapon can contribute new information about the genotoxic chemicals in tobacco products. The more we know about the toxic chemicals in tobacco, the better we can fight it. For example, the new information may be helpful in bringing new regulations and lawsuits, including personal injury, against the tobacco companies. The new information may counter a claim by a tobacco company that its new cigarette or chewing tobacco is safer.

Question. What kind of data does the new detection technology weapon provide?

Answer. Below is an example of data provided by the detection technology weapon. The vertical lines in the upper part of (A) of the figure come from genotoxic chemicals in cigarette smoke. This is the first time that cigarette smoke has been imaged in this way. The lower part (B) of the figure confirms the specificity of the detection technology weapon. If you’re here, something compelled you to do more. We embrace that desire and invite you to use your voice for change. Now click here to get involved with our current projects!