Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Editorial in today's New York Times -- Nicotine Manipulation Confirmed:
Any doubts that the tobacco industry has surreptitiously raised the nicotine content of cigarettes should be laid to rest by a study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. They confirmed last year’s discovery of the nicotine increase by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and went on to identify how the tobacco companies designed their cigarettes to accomplish this.
These manipulations were discovered because Massachusetts requires manufacturers to use a more realistic test to measure how much nicotine is deliverable to typical smokers and requires companies to report design features of their cigarettes. When Harvard researchers reanalyzed the data they found that the nicotine yield per cigarette rose by an average of 11 percent between 1998 and 2005, a conclusion contested by the industry.
Harvard researchers concluded that the companies managed this by using tobacco containing a higher concentration of nicotine and perhaps also by slowing the rate at which cigarettes burned — thus increasing the number of puffs per cigarette. The companies presumably hoped that additional nicotine would hook more new customers and keep old ones from breaking the habit.