Could a Cigarette Ever Be Safe? – The Story of Project XA

One of the really big issues to come from cigarettes is that they kill people. We’re not going to beat around the bush and pretend that this isn’t the case, because cigarettes have a well-known history of outright killing people. Lung cancer, heart disease, things like it – these are all major problems that have been faced by smokers over the years.

What a lot of people might not know is that back in the 1950’s to 1970s, one man attempted to create a cigarette that didn’t kill people. His invention may not have gotten anywhere, but the story behind it is quite interesting, and as it does tie into our belief that the electronic cigarette is not going to kill anybody, we thought we would talk about it for a bit.

Enter Dr James D. Mold

The story begins back in 1955. A man called Dr James Mold was working for a company in North Carolina called Liggett and Myers. In his official role as a scientist, Mold was tasked with identifying the ingredients inside cigarette smoke that caused cancer.

What is actually most interesting is that he did succeed in this task. James realised that the materials that caused the cancer that ravaged people were found on the skin of the lab mice that were used. He decided that he could do better, and so he said about trying to create a safer cigarette, something that didn’t have these cancer-causing ingredients in them, so people can smoke and be happy without dying.

So, this is pretty much how the story gets going. The official designation for the project became Project XA. He had the full backing of one of the partners to start work on the project, and thus had quite a lot of resources to put towards it.

25 years after the project started, in 1980, James came up with a cigarette that used Palladium. Palladium is something which can destroy substances that cause cancer in conjunction with magnesium nitrate. The project was actually a roaring success, and it seemed to be the case that the cigarette could start to be released to the general public in short order.

Legal Troubles

Unfortunately, the project never actually got off the ground because it ran into some legal trouble when it came to releasing.

The fundamental problem that the legal team for the company had was that if a safer product was launched, it may incur lawsuits for the other products that they had. Consequently, many executives withdrew any backing they may have had for the support of the project, and so production never started.

It was a shame for James because after 25 years, there was nothing left to show for his efforts. He could not do anything more with the project, or previous work was abandoned, and he was not allowed to publish anything he learned. The public had no knowledge that the product even existed for the next two decades, and all the big tobacco companies continued to create and sell these products. For James, it was the sad realization that his project would never get off the ground. Despite having spent 25 years on it, there was nothing left for him to do but move on.

Final Thoughts

It’s a truly sad occurrence when people don’t get the products that would help to change their lives. In the case of Project XA, it truly was quite sad. This was something that was going to revolutionize the lives of many. It was a cigarette that prevented the cancer symptoms from ever developing, and it meant that people had access to some incredible opportunities.

Ultimately, this is not the case. The end result was that things were never going to play out quite the same way. There was a genuine sense of challenge when it came to getting the project off the ground, and it was sad to see 25 years of development and research go down the drain. The only hope is that people will eventually learn to create safer products, but it was a shame that millions of people were are denied the chance to have a life changing cigarette.

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