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Introduced Eclipse 1996
Test markets: Chattanooga, TN and Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.
2003 Eclipse introduced limited national distribution



RJ Reynolds
Eclipse Web Site-log in


Uses a carbon tip, to heat rather than burn tobacco. The purpose of Eclipse was to simplify the chemical composition and reduce the biological activity of the mainstream and sidestream smoke and to achieve a significant reduction of environmental tobacco smoke. In Eclipse, tobacco pyrolysis is reduced by a carbon fuel rod that serves as a heat source for generating an aerosol having nicotine and tobacco flavor. The carbon rod, at the tip of the cigarette, is insulated and bound with two wrapping mats of glass fibers.[1] RJ Reynolds claims that water and glycerin make up 80% of the smoke. Regular and menthol varieties. Eclipse and Eclipse Mild.


All of the Taste, Less of the Toxins. "Safe" Cigarette with 90% less smoke. Lower levels of tar, nicotine, and carcinogens. "Ultra low tar cigarette with full-bodies taste and close to 90% less secondhand smoke. No lingering odor, hardly a stain, not even ashes."

Product Design Features

  • Eclipse contains four sections: a heat source of high purity carbon surrounded by an insulator of continuous-filament glass (designed to be non-respirable); a section of tobacco laced with glycerin; a segment of processed tobacco blend; and finally, a conventional style filter of cellulose acetate
  • A later version had a hollow mouthpiece replacing the filter
  • Rod nicotine yield: not conducted or not available
  • Filter ventilation: not conducted or not available



320x280 display from GoogleVideo


Industry Documents


Market Testing

  • In 1996, test-marketed in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Atlanta, Georgia
  • In 2000, introduced to the Dallas/Forth Worth market


Reynolds' primary internal goal and design criteria for Eclipse was risk reduction. By the time Reynolds first test marketed Eclipse in 1996, it had already concluded that it had met this primary design goal. However,for the first four years of the Eclipse test-market, from 1996 to 2000, RJR marketed Eclipse in the same way it had marketed Premier, as a "cleaner" cigarette because it produced very low levels of secondhand smoke, rather than as a healthier cigarette.

In 2000, when Eclipse was introduced to the Dallas/Fort Worth market, Reynolds began making limited health claims relating to the product. After first advising consumers that the best choice for smokers who worry about their health is to quit, promotional materials stated that, compared to other cigarettes, Eclipse “may present less risk of cancer, chronic bronchitis, and possibly emphysema.” Reynolds communicated its belief that Eclipse may present less risk of certain diseases in advertisements, point of sale materials, and its Eclipse website, After indicating that “the best choice for smokers who worry about their health is to quit,” the advertisement states “Eclipse may present less risk of cancer. Eclipse produces less inflammation in the respiratory system, which suggests a lower risk of chronic bronchitis, and possibly even emphysema. Today, Reynolds says Eclipse "may present less risk of cancer associated with smoking." The delay in making these claims from 1996 until 2000 is attributable to the additional time Reynolds took to construct and apply its own internal scientific testing approach for labeling a cigarette as less hazardous.[1]

Advertising and Selling Messages

  • Although the goal was harm reduction, Eclipse was initially marketed like Premier, as a “cleaner” cigarette, because it produced lower levels of secondhand smoke
  • Later claims were simplified to “may present less risk of cancer associated with smoking”


  • Initially four styles- Eclipse Milds, Eclipse Full Flavor, Eclipse Milds Menthol, and Eclipse Full Flavor Menthol
  • In 2000 re-launch, packaging was redesigned, and varieties were reduced to Eclipse Box and Eclipse Menthol Box
  • Each pack has an attached onsert touting “A Better Way to Smoke!”

Use and the Consumer

  • Currently available nationally
  • Also available directly from, except in states wherelegal action is pending contesting the validity of reduced harm claims

Smoke Emissions and Human Use

  • ISO/FTC (standard) method: Acetaldehyde levels in Eclipse were 16% less than in Carlton and 734% more than in Now. Acrolein levels in Eclipse were similar to Carlton, but 475% higher than Now. Eclipse had a similar amount of benzo[a]pyrene as Carlton (levels in Now were not quantifiable). NNN levels in Carlton and Now were either less than or not quantifiable, respectively, compared to Eclipse, but NNK levels were significantly lower in Carlton and Now compared to Eclipse (31.8 ng/cig)
  • Massachusetts: Eclipse was substantially higher than Now, with greater increases for Eclipse for all carcinogenic constituents except acetaldehyde
  • Topography: Eclipse may produce greater puff number and volume, and lower puff duration and interval
  • Human exposure: No significant effect on 1-HOP or NNAL but increase in CO observed after 5 days of use

Reynolds conducted extensive testing on Eclipse, including biological studies, (performing genetic toxicology, cytotoxicity, animal studies), human behavior studies and human evaluations. The results of the chemistry studies showed substantial differences between the smoke composition of Eclipse and the tobacco burning cigarettes tested (Merit Ultralight, and two reference, tobacco-burning, cigarettes designated K1R4F and K1R5F).The chemical composition of the smoke from Eclipse is much simpler (i.e., contains fewer compounds and substantially smaller quantities of compounds) than that of cigarettes that produce smoke by burning tobacco.

Reynolds also compared the FTC yields of 30 specific toxic constituents from Eclipse and the three conventional reference cigarettes. These 30 constituents include some of the most commonly investigated toxic constituents of tobacco smoke. Despite exhibiting reductions in most chemicals, the levels of four constituents, ammonia, and three carcinogens, formaldehyde, NNK, and 4-aminobiphenyl, were similar to a standard reference cigarette. Also, two other compounds, acrolein and furfural, were found to be higher in Eclipse.

To explore the validity of the reduced carcinogens claims made by RJR, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH, 1999) commissioned an independent analysis of the Eclipse aerosol versus two ultra low yield cigarettes: Now (RJR; FTC tar < 0.5 mg) and Carlton (Brown & Williamson: FTC tar 1 mg). While acetaldehyde levels in Eclipse were slightly less (16%) than in Carlton (84.2 μg versus 99.8 μg), Eclipse acetaldehyde levels were 734% more than in Now (84.2 μg versus 10.1 μg). Acrolein levels in Eclipse were similar to Carlton (11.5 μg versus 10.4 μg), but Eclipse had 475% more acrolein than Now (11.5 μg versus 2.0 μg). Compared to Carlton, Eclipse had a similar amount of benzo[a]pyrene (1.2 μg versus 1.3 μg), whereas, benzo[a]pyrene levels in Now were not quantifiable. NNK levels were significantly lower in Carlton and Now compared to Eclipse (31.8 ng).

Industry research by Reynolds with human smokers compared behavioral and physiological effects of smoking Eclipse compared to usual brands. Smokers were exposed to lower mutagens from smoking Eclipse, compared to usual tobacco-burning cigarettes. Other research (Breland et al., 2006) has shown that when switched to Eclipse, smokers tend to take larger, longer, and more frequent puffs, thus increasing smoke intake. Eclipse reduced exposure to nicotine and the nitrosamine NNK, but increased CO exposure.[1]

Toxicity Analyses

  • FDA to assert jurisdiction over Eclipse (June 2000)
  • Surgeon General warnings; No sales to minors
  • Subject to State and Federal cigarette taxes

In vitro tests conducted on Eclipse indicate that the smoke from Eclipse is less likely to produce genetic damage and to reduce cellular growth rate than the smoke from tobacco-burning cigarettes. Reynolds also conducted comparative in vivo toxicological assays using rodents, comparing Eclipse to tobacco-burning cigarettes. In general, effects observed among the animals exposed to smoke from Eclipse were fewer and less severe (in some cases, entirely absent) compared to those observed among the animals exposed to smoke from the 1R4F.

Legal Compliance

  • FDA to assert jurisdiction over Eclipse (June 2000)
  • Surgeon General warnings; No sales to minors
  • Subject to State and Federal cigarette taxes

Community Response

  • Vermont Attorney General filed a lawsuit challenging RJR marketing claims of Eclipse cigarettes (2005)



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