Saturday, January 20, 2007

Tobacco companies have boosted nicotine content

Boston, MA--A reanalysis of nicotine yield from major brand name cigarettes sold in Massachusetts from 1997 to 2005 has confirmed that manufacturers have steadily increased the levels of this agent in cigarettes, a study by the Harvard School of Public Health reported Jan. 18.

Cigarette makers not only increased the level of nicotine an average of 1.6 per cent per year, they also redesigned cigarettes so that smokers would take more puffs. Nicotine is the primary addictive agent in cigarettes.

"Cigarettes are finely-tuned drug delivery devices, designed to perpetuate a tobacco pandemic," said former Massachusetts Health Commissioner Howard Koh, a lead author of the Harvard study. "Yet precise information about these products remains shrouded in secrecy, hidden from the public."

Prof. Gregory Connolly at HSPH and research director, said: "Our findings call into serious question whether the tobacco industry has changed at all in its pursuit of addicting smokers since signing the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 with the State Attorneys General. Our analysis shows that the companies have been subtly increasing the drug nicotine year by year in their cigarettes, without any warning to consumers, since the settlement."

Press release of the HSPH study. Full text of the report.

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