High nicotine in US cigarettes perpetuates tobacco pandemic

Published: Thursday 15 February 2007

The amount of nicotine that us smokers typically inhale per cigarette rose by 11 per cent from 1998 to 2005, perpetuating a "tobacco pandemic" that makes it harder for smokers to quit, according to a study by Harvard School of Public Health. The researchers analysed data submitted by major cigarette brands to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Massachusetts has required tobacco companies to submit annual reports on cigarette nicotine yields since 1997.

To boost amounts of nicotine inhaled by smokers, cigarette makers intensified the concentration of nicotine and modified cigarette designs to increase the number of puffs per cigarette, the Harvard researchers said. "The end result is a product that is potentially more addictive," the study said.

"Our findings call into serious question whether the tobacco industry has changed at all in its pursuit of addicting smokers since the Master Settlement Agreement," said Gregory Connolly, director of the Harvard School of Public Health's Tobacco Control Research Programme. The 1998 settlement enjoins companies to warn smokers about rising nicotine levels.

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