FTC Releases Results of "Tar," Nicotine and Carbon Monoxide Testing for 1,262 Varieties of Domestic Cigarettes Sold in 1996 and 1,252 Varieties Sold in 1997

For Your Information


The Federal Trade Commission made public today the results of "tar," nicotine and carbon monoxide testing for 1,262 varieties of domestic cigarettes sold in 1996 and 1,252 varieties sold in 1997. The reports, titled "Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide of the Smoke of 1,262 Varieties of Domestic Cigarettes For the Year 1996" and "Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide of the Smoke of 1,252 Varieties of Domestic Cigarettes For the Year 1997" (the T&N Reports), will appear in the Federal Register shortly. The Commission has reported "tar" and nicotine test results since 1967.

The Tobacco Institute Testing Laboratory (TITL), which has since been renamed the Tobacco Industry Testing Laboratory, conducted most of the tests; the Commission had unrestricted access to the TITL lab to review the testing methodology and to monitor the actual testing procedure. The T&N Reports also include "tar," nicotine, and carbon monoxide ratings for generic and private label cigarettes and cigarettes that are not widely available; these varieties were tested by their manufacturers (not by TITL) using the same methodology, processes and test procedures as TITL used. In all cases, the results were supplied to the Commission by the individual companies under compulsory process.

The ratings published in these reports reflect the relative yields of different cigarettes when they are smoked by a machine under identical conditions. They are not intended to reflect what any individual consumer would get from any particular cigarette. Research indicates that many smokers of cigarettes with lower ratings "compensate" by taking larger puffs or more frequent puffs from those cigarettes. A smoker can also "compensate" by blocking tiny ventilation holes in cigarette filters that are designed to dilute smoke with air. Compensatory smoking behavior can significantly affect the amount of "tar," nicotine, and carbon monoxide a smoker gets from any cigarette -- smokers of cigarette brands with lower "tar" and nicotine ratings may get as much "tar" and nicotine as smokers of much higher rated brands.

Given the limitations of the current system, the FTC requested that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conduct a complete review of the FTC's cigarette testing methodology. HHS agreed and its review will be completed in September 2000. In addition, in its July 1999 "Report to Congress for 1997, Pursuant to the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act," the Commission recommended that Congress consider giving authority over cigarette testing to one of the Federal government's science-based public health agencies.

Copies of the news release, the "Federal Trade Commission Report of the Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide of the Smoke of 1,262 Varieties of Domestic Cigarettes for the Year 1996" and "Federal Trade Commission Report of the Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide of the Smoke of 1,252 Varieties of Domestic Cigarettes for the Year 1997" are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.

(FTC File No. 972 3127)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Brenda Mack
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2182
Staff Contact:
Michael Ostheimer
Bureau of Consumer Protection

202-326-2699