Cigarette Ratings

in Tobacco
The New Jersey Senator uncovered a lengthy history of false and deceptive cigarette ratings and marketing methods used by the tobacco industry. ... Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) chaired a Senate Commerce Committee hearing to examine the accuracy of the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) tar and nicotine cigarette rating system, and the marketing claims of tobacco companies based on these ratings. The New Jersey Senator uncovered a lengthy history of false and deceptive cigarette ratings and marketing methods used by the tobacco industry. Altria (Philip Morris) and R.J. Reynolds were called to the hearing but refused to attend.

"Tobacco companies need to be honest with smokers about tar and nicotine exposure. We learned today that the FTC tobacco ratings system deceives smokers, plain and simple. It is now clear that the tobacco industry has been aware of the inaccuracy of these ratings for more than three decades," said Sen. Lautenberg. At a Commerce Committee hearing chaired by Lautenberg, the FTC raised concerns about its testing methods and admitted that its ratings tend to be relatively poor predictors of tar and nicotine exposure, noting how machine-measured tar and nicotine ratings are not an accurate reflection of tar and nicotine intake. A document released at the hearing shows that the tobacco industry had knowledge of the inaccuracy of the ratings since the 1970s. Sen. Lautenberg held this hearing to illustrate how the FTC cigarette testing method is not an accurate measure for rating tar and nicotine in cigarettes and how the tobacco industry used the method to mislead smokers into thinking "light" and "low-tar" cigarettes are healthier and safer than regular cigarettes.

The FTC cigarette testing method uses a smoking machine - a "smoking robot"- that smokes every cigarette exactly the same way to determine the amount of tar and nicotine in each brand of cigarettes. According to this method, some cigarettes appear to deliver lower tar and nicotine than regular cigarettes. These cigarettes are usually described as "light" and "low-tar" by the tobacco industry. However, when smoked by actual smokers, light and low-tar cigarettes often cause the smoker to receive more tar and nicotine than regular cigarettes. This is because light cigarette smokers take longer, deeper puffs and smoke more cigarettes a day to compensate for the lower nicotine in these cigarettes. As early as 1975, the tobacco industry knew that "light" cigarettes did not actually deliver less tar and nicotine to smokers despite the lower ratings from the FTC Cigarette Testing Method. Despite knowing this, the tobacco industry continues to market these cigarettes as healthier and safer than regular cigarettes.

Many smokers switch to cigarette brands advertised as "low tar" or "light" out of concerns for their health, believing them to be less risky or a step toward quitting. Due to the misleading and deceptive marketing of light cigarettes by the tobacco industry, some light cigarette smokers have filed state lawsuits asserting that the companies committed fraud when they misled consumers into believing that light cigarettes contained less tar and nicotine even though they knew this was false. The following participants testified at todays hearing: - William Kovacic, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission. - Cathy Backinger, Acting Chief, Tobacco Control Research Branch, National Cancer Institute. - David L. Ashley, PhD, Chief, Division of Laboratory Sciences, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. - Jon Samet, MD, Chairman, Department of Epidemiology, The Johns Hopkins University. - Jack Henningfield, PhD, Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. - Marvin Goldberg, PhD, Professor of Marketing, Penn State University. - Stephen Sheller, JD, Founder and Managing Partner, Sheller, P.C. - Altria (Philip Morris) and R.J. Reynolds were called to the hearing but refused to attend. Senator Lautenbergs Record On Anti-Tobacco Issues 1987 - Wrote the law banning smoking on airline flights of 2 hours or less. 1989 - Wrote the law banning smoking on airline flights of 6 hours or less.

This covered approximately 99 percent of all domestic flights. 1994 - Wrote the law banning smoking in buildings where federally funded childrens programs took place. This includes all public schools, and federally funded day care centers. 1996 - Introduced legislation to provide a financial incentive for states to successfully sue the tobacco industry to recoup Medicaid expenditures stemming from tobacco-related illnesses. 1997 - Introduced bipartisan legislation that would have required tobacco companies to disclose the ingredients and carcinogens in their products to the public and affixed larger warning labels with more direct messages to kids. - Introduced legislation on secondhand smoke limitations that later served as the basis for such regulations in the proposed global tobacco settlement. - Named Vice-Chair of the Democratic Tobacco Task Force in the Senate in recognition of his leadership on the public health side of the tobacco debate.

2005 - Introduced an amendment in the Senate Commerce Committee that would ban cigarette companies from labeling cigarettes as "Light" and "Low-tar" based on the FTC cigarette testing method. This amendment was defeated on a party-line vote. 2006 - Introduced the "Truth in Cigarette Labeling Act" to ban cigarette companies from labeling cigarettes as "Light" and "Low-tar" based on the FTC cigarette testing method.

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The New Jersey Senator uncovered a lengthy history of false and deceptive cigarette ratings and marketing methods used by the tobacco industry.

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This article was published on 2011/01/25