FTC Extends Comment Period for Proposed New Method for Determining Cigarettes' Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide Yields

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The Federal Trade Commission has extended until February 4, 1998, the public comment period on proposed revisions to the method currently used to determine the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide ratings of cigarettes. The FTC has requested comments on the Commission's proposal to modify the current cigarette testing by adding a second tier of more intensive smoking conditions to its current cigarette testing methodology. The goal of the proposed changes is to better inform smokers that the amount of tar and nicotine they get from any cigarette will vary significantly depending on how the cigarette is smoked. The Commission also requested comment on possible consumer education initiatives, and on the potential use of mathematical models to approximate the ratings that would be obtained under the new testing method. In addition, comments were sought on the use of certain descriptive terms (such as "light" and "low tar") that are used by cigarette manufacturers to promote their products.

The FTC issued its initial request for public comment on Sept. 9, 1997, and the deadline was originally Nov. 17. On Oct. 29, the Commission announced that it had extended that filing deadline until Jan. 20, 1998, pursuant to requests submitted by the Food and Drug Administration, the four largest cigarette manufacturers, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the American Lung Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

The Commission has now received a request for further extension of the filing deadline from Prospect Associates, which serves as the Coordinating Center for the National Cancer Institute's Project ASSIST (American Stop Smoking Intervention Study). The Coordinating Center and the 17 states that ASSIST funds want the deadline extended so they can incorporate into their comment newly available data relevant to the issues raised by the Commission's proposal, including new data from smoking machine tests conducted pursuant to a methodology promulgated by Massachusetts.

The Commission vote to extend the comment period was 5-0.

Copies of the Sept. 9 press release announcing the proposal, as well as the Federal Register notices, the most recent FTC report on the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide content of cigarettes, and the Oct. 29 press release announcing the first extention of the comment period are available from the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-3128; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone at 202-326-2710.

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Victoria Streitfeld
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