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The Federal Trade Commission has proposed rescinding guidance issued in 1966 that generally permits statements concerning tar and nicotine yields if they are based on the Cambridge Filter Method, which is sometimes referred to as “the FTC Method.” If the guidance is withdrawn, advertisers should no longer use terms suggesting the FTC’s endorsement or approval of any specific test method.

The Cambridge Filter Method is a machine-based test method that “smokes” cigarettes according to a standard protocol. At the time the FTC issued its guidance, most public health officials believed that reducing the amount of “tar” produced by a cigarette could reduce a smoker’s risk of lung cancer. The Commission believed that giving consumers uniform, standardized information about tar and nicotine yields of cigarettes would help them make informed decisions about the cigarettes they smoked.

Today, however, the scientific consensus is that machine-based measurements of tar and nicotine yields based on the Cambridge Filter Method do not provide meaningful information on the amounts of tar and nicotine smokers receive from cigarettes or on the relative amounts of tar and nicotine they are likely to receive from smoking different brands of cigarettes. The primary reason for this is smoker compensation – that is, smokers alter their smoking behavior in order to obtain the necessary nicotine dosage. Compensation, and changes over the years in cigarette design to facilitate compensation, can have significant effects on the amount of tar and nicotine smokers get from cigarettes.

The proposal can be found on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release. It will be published soon in the Federal Register, and the comment period will end 30 days thereafter. Interested parties are invited to submit comments. Comments must be received no later than August 12, 2008. Comments filed in paper form should reference “Cigarette Test Method, [P944509]” in the text and on the envelope. Send two copies to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex L), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Comments filed electronically should be submitted via the Web-based form at

The Commission vote authorizing the publication of the Federal Register Notice was 4-0. (FTC File No. P944509. The staff contacts are Rosemary Rosso and Shira Modell, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2174 or 202-326-3116.)

(FYI Cigarette Testing )
(FTC File No. P944509)

Contact Information

Frank Dorman
FTC Office of Public Affairs