Federal Trade Commission
Report of "Tar,"
Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide of the
This report contains data on the "tar," nicotine, and carbon monoxide yields of 1249 varieties of cigarettes manufactured and sold in the United States in 1995. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) obtained the test results from the five largest cigarette manufacturers in the United States. These companies are: Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation; Liggett Group, Inc.; Lorillard, Inc.; Philip Morris, Inc.; and R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Inc.
The Tobacco Institute Testing Laboratory (TITL), a private laboratory operated by the cigarette industry, conducted most of the "tar," nicotine, and carbon monoxide tests for these varieties. The Commission collected the results of the TITL testing directly from the individual companies under compulsory process. Generic, private label, and other brands not widely available were not tested by TITL. The Commission obtained the information on these other brands directly from the manufacturers, pursuant to compulsory process. Results of such non-TITL testing are indicated by asterisks. The methodology, processes, and procedures that the five cigarette companies and TITL employ are identical to those the Commission, in its own testing lab, had followed in the past.(1) Harold Pillsbury, the former director of the FTC laboratory and currently a contractor to the Commission, had unrestricted access to the TITL laboratory to review TITL's testing methodology and protocols and to monitor the actual testing process. TITL provided the results to the respective cigarette companies, which then provided TITL's data regarding their own brands to the FTC in response to compulsory process.
The cigarettes were tested using the Cambridge Method. The FTC approved this methodology, and it has been the standard for cigarette testing since 1966.(2) The testing was subjected to the conditions prescribed by the FTC in Federal Register, Volume 32, Number 147, Page 11,178, dated August 1, 1967. With regard to the testing of carbon monoxide yield, the conditions are specified in Federal Register, Volume 45, Number 134, Page 46,483, dated July 10, 1980. The conditions prescribed in the FTC's 1967 announcement are the following:
The 1980 FTC announcement contained specifications regarding a new testing methodology to determine the carbon monoxide (CO) and nicotine yield of cigarettes. These specifications are the following:
TITL reported, and the FTC's contractor confirmed, that an independent company under contract to TITL obtained the tested cigarette samples. Under its contract, this company purchased two packages of every variety of cigarettes in 50 geographical locations throughout the United States. If not all varieties were available in every location, one or more additional packages of cigarettes were purchased in the areas where the respective varieties were available. This procedure of selecting cigarettes for testing replicates the one used by the FTC. Cigarettes used in the test represented cigarettes sold in the U.S. at the time of purchase in 1995.
The "tar" and carbon monoxide figures are rounded to the nearest milligram (mg.). Those figures with 0.5 mg. or greater are rounded up, while those with 0.4 mg. or less are rounded down. The nicotine figures are rounded to the nearest tenth of a milligram. Those with 0.05 mg. or greater are rounded up; those with 0.04 mg. or less are rounded down.
Cigarette varieties with assay results of "tar" below 0.5 mg. per cigarette and of nicotine below 0.05 mg. are recorded in the table as <0.5, and <0.05, respectively. The table does not differentiate, nor are actual ratings provided for these cigarettes, because the currently approved testing methodology is not sufficiently sensitive to report these components at lower levels.
The following varieties are the lowest in "tar" yield as tested by TITL:
BRAND-NAME DESCRIPTION TAR NIC CO ---------- --------------------- ---- --- ---
CARLTON KING F HP ULTRA-LT <.5 .05 <.05 NOW KING F HP <.5 .05 <.05 NOW 100 F HP <.5 .05 <.05 CARLTON 100 F HP LT MEN 1 .1 1 CARLTON 100 F HP LT 1 .1 1 CARLTON 100 F HP SLIM MEN 1 .1 1 NOW KING F SP 1 .1 2 CARLTON KING F HP LT 1 .1 2 NOW KING F SP MEN 1 .1 2 CARLTON KING F SP LT MEN 1 .1 2 BRISTOL KING F SP LOWEST 1 .1 2 CARLTON KING F SP LT 1 .1 2 MERIT KING F HP ULTIMA 1 .1 2 CAMBRIDGE KING F SP LOWEST 1 .2 2 MERIT KING F SP ULTIMA 1 .1 3 NOTE: F - Filter, HP - Hard Pack, SP - Soft Pack, LT - Light, MEN - Menthol
Those ranking the highest in "tar" yield are the following:
BRAND NAME DESCRIPTION TAR NIC CO ---------- --------------------- --- --- ---
BRISTOL KING NF SP 27 1.7 16 ENGLISH OVALS KING NF HP 26 1.9 15 COMMANDER KING NF SP 26 1.7 15 BASIC KING NF SP 26 1.6 15 TAREYTON HERBERT KING NF SP 25 1.6 16 LUCKY STRIKE REG NF SP 25 1.5 17 OLD GOLD KING NF SP STRAIGHT 24 1.7 14 GENCO* KING NF SP 24 1.7 NA CAMEL REG NF SP 24 1.7 17 PREMIUM BUY* KING NF SP 24 1.7 NA GENERALS* KING NF SP 24 1.7 NA GRIDLOCK* KING NF SP 24 1.7 NA BEST BUY* KING NF SP 24 1.7 NA ALL AMERICAN VALUE* KING NF SP 24 1.7 NA SHENANDOAH* KING NF SP 24 1.7 NA TOP CHOICE* KING NF SP 24 1.7 NA BRONSON* KING NF SP 24 1.7 NA GPA* KING NF SP 24 1.6 NA SUMMIT KING NF SP 24 1.5 16 PRIME KING NF SP 24 1.5 16 PALL MALL KING NF SP 24 1.5 16 CLASS A KING NF SP 24 1.4 16 GEN/PRIVATE LABEL KING NF SP 24 1.4 16
NOTE: NF - Non-Filter, HP - Hard Pack, SP - Soft Pack
* indicates brand tested by the manufacturer rather than by TITL.
On April 13, 1983, the Commission announced it had determined that its then testing methodology for "tar," nicotine, and carbon monoxide understated the measured deliveries for Brown & Williamson's Barclay cigarettes. Therefore, Barclay cigarettes were removed from the Commission's reports for "tar," nicotine, and carbon monoxide until a new, accurate methodology could be tested and adopted.
On July 25, 1986, the Commission informed Brown & Williamson that as a result of a review of data presented by Brown & Williamson regarding "tar" and nicotine rating for two varieties of Barclay cigarettes with a new filter, the Commission would authorize, under certain conditions, the following legends for advertising purposes:
On September 9, 1997, the Commission issued a notice requesting public comment on proposed revisions to the testing method used to determine the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide ratings of cigarettes. The proposed methodology would require that each cigarette variety be tested under two different sets of smoking conditions, rather than the single set used under the current system. The revised test method would produce tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide yields using both the current testing parameters and more intensive smoking conditions, thus producing a range of potential yields for each cigarette. The Commission also requested comment on: (1) the feasibility of generating the upper tier of ratings through mathematical formulas, rather than actual testing on a smoking machine; and (2) the usefulness and feasibility of two different legends that could be used in advertising to disclose the ratings.
Table 1 of this report displays the average tar and nicotine values, calculated on a sales-weighted basis, from 1968 through 1995. The Commission included Table 1 for the first time in its Report on the Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide of the Smoke of 1206 Varieties of Domestic Cigarettes for the Year 1994 (1997).
SALES WEIGHTED TAR AND NICOTINE YIELDS 1968-1995
YEAR TAR (mg.) NICOTINE (mg.)
1968 21.6 1.35 1969 20.7 1.38 1970 20.0 1.31 1971 20.2 1.32 1972 19.9 1.39 1973 19.3 1.32 1974 18.4 1.24 1975 18.6 1.21 1976 18.1 1.16 1977 16.8 1.12 1978 16.1 1.11 1979 15.1 1.07 1980 14.1 1.04 1981 13.2 0.92 1982 13.5 0.89 1983 13.4 0.88 1984 13.0 0.89 1985 13.0 0.95 1986 13.4 0.93 1987 13.3 0.94 1988 13.3 0.94 1989 13.1 0.96 1990 12.5 0.93 1991 12.6 0.94 1992 12.4 0.92 1993 12.4 0.90 1994 12.1 0.90 1995 12.0 0.87
1. The Commission determined in early 1987 to close its laboratory. The Commission found that closing the laboratory was necessary for several reasons, chiefly, the cost of the laboratory was significant, and the Commission would have had to commit significant additional funds to continue the program. The Commission was also persuaded that the information could be obtained from other sources, and other means were available to verify the accuracy of industry testing results.
2. As discussed infra, the Commission recently issued a notice requesting public comment on proposed revisions to the current testing method.