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FTC Acts to Prevent Tobacco Industry Deception About Tar, Nicotine Levels; Congress Should Go Further by Giving FDA Authority Over Tobacco Products
Date:7/8/2008

to publicly release this information. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on this legislation in the near future.

The FTC's action is necessary in light of the overwhelming scientific evidence that machine-based measures of tar and nicotine do not provide meaningful information about the amounts of tar and nicotine that smokers actually receive or about the relative health risks of different cigarettes. That is because the tobacco industry has been able to design cigarettes to undermine the validity of the test and because the machine test does not take into account the way actual smokers adjust their smoking behavior, for example by taking more or deeper puffs or blocking ventilation holes, to maintain nicotine levels.

Numerous public health authorities, including the National Cancer Institute in a landmark 2001 report, have found that cigarette manufacturers for decades have deceptively marketed "light" and "low-tar" cigarettes as reducing health risks despite knowing from their own research that this was not the case. The manufacturers' ability to claim that nicotine and tar ratings are based on an FTC-approved testing method has been an integral part of this low-tar lie. In an August 2006 ruling that the tobacco companies have violated civil racketeering laws, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler found that the tobacco company defendants "falsely marketed and promoted 'low tar' and 'light' cigarettes as less harmful than full-flavor cigarettes in order to keep people smoking and sustain corporate revenues."

Today's FTC action also provides important support for ongoing litigation to hold cigarette manufacturers accountable for the harm caused by their deceptive marketing of "light" and "low-tar" cigarettes. Class-action lawsuits have been filed in several state courts accusing cigarette manufacturers of fraudulently marketing "light" and "low-tar" cigarettes as safer than other cigarettes. The Altria Group Inc., parent
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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