U.S. brands tested in the study included Marlboro, Newport, Newport Light, Camel Light and Marlboro Menthol. The researchers tested TSNA levels in 126 smokers from Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States. These smokers smoked a variety of popular brands, Ashley's team noted.
By measuring chemicals in cigarette butts after a day of smoking, the researchers were able to determine how much TSNA smokers were exposed to. In addition, they also used urine samples to find out how much of the TSNA was broken down in the body.
They found a correlation between the amount of TSNA that entered a smoker's body and how much is broken down in the urine. "We will be able to use this biomarker in the urine to help us understand how much of the carcinogen exposure you are getting in your mouth and lungs," Pirkle said.
Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the study "shows why the authority to issue product standards, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] now has, is critically important."
This type of research will help determine changes in the design of tobacco products, he said. These changes could include "reducing TSNAs in cigarettes, which will benefit public health," McGoldrick said.
If the FDA determines that reducing the levels of TSNAs would be a public health benefit, then it could mandate a change in all tobacco products on the market, McGoldrick added.
"This is a dramatic change from the days when the only people who had anything to say about tobacco product design were the tobacco companies, and they of course had no interest and have no interest in public health," he said.
Another expert said even that is not enough to protect the public's health.
"There are two things in the paper that are disturbing to me,"
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