The Federal Trade Commission made public today the results of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide testing for 1,249 varieties of domestic cigarettes sold in 1995. The report to Congress, titled "Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide of the Smoke of 1249 Varieties of Domestic Cigarettes For the Year 1995" (the T&N Report), will appear in the Federal Register shortly. The Commission has reported tar and nicotine test results since 1967.
The Tobacco Institute Testing Laboratory (TITL) 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 for major cigarette brands. The T&N Report also includes 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 this report reflect the relative yields of different cigarettes when they are smoked by a machine under identical conditions. They do not indicate what any individual smoker gets from any particular cigarette. Research indicates that many smokers of cigarettes with low ratings "compensate" by taking larger puffs or more frequent puffs from those cigarettes. The amount of tar and nicotine a smoker actually gets also can increase if the smoker unintentionally blocks 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.
Given the limitations of the current system, the Commission announced on September 9, 1997 that it was soliciting public comment on proposed revisions to the method used to determine the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide ratings of cigarettes. The Commission's proposal would modify the current test method by adding a second tier of more intensive smoking conditions to the 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. Comments on all of these issues can be submitted to the Commission until February 4, 1998.
Copies of the Sept. 9, 1997 news release announcing the proposed revisions to the FTC cigarette test method and the Federal Register notice, as well as the "Federal Trade Commission Report of the Tar, Nicotine and Carbon Monoxide of the Smoke of 1,249 Varieties of Domestic Cigarettes for the Year 1995" are available at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov and also 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 FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. 962 3099)
Office of Public Affairs
Bureau of Consumer Protection