"We are working very hard to develop a reduced-risk product," BAT spokeswoman Emily Brand said on Sunday.

 

She denied a London newspaper's report, however, that the company was preparing to launch a cigarette that would cut the risk of cancer and heart disease by up to 90%.

 

"There is no cigarette out there, in development or in the pipeline, that has a 90% reduced risk," she said, referring to the report in The Sunday Times.

 

BAT, the world's second largest publicly held tobacco company, produces the brand names Lucky Strike, Kent, Dunhill and Pall Mall.

 

Unknown launch

 

Brand said the development of safer cigarettes, through the possible use of different filters or ingredients to reduce the amount of harmful substances that reach the lungs, was just one of several new product ideas the company was researching.

 

The products, however, were a long way off from being launched publicly.

 

"I don't know if we're ever going to launch it," Brand said.

 

The only BAT product that could substantially reduce the risk of heart and lung disease was a non-smoked wad of chewing tobacco. The teabag-like product that is stuffed under the lip is being tried out by BAT in Sweden and South Africa.

 

According to independent medical research, because the tobacco is not smoked, the risk of disease can be reduced by as much as 90%.