FTC Invalidating “Light” and “Low-tar” Measurement
> 7/11/2008 3:47:05 PM

Cigarette manufacturers have been under pressure for years to better warn the public about health risks. This has forced the manufacturers to make significant changes, such as funding educational campaigns and including dire warnings on boxes, but it has also resulted in the manufacturers becoming much more savvy about subtle ways to get around the negative image of their products. One of their tactics has been to use the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) method of measuring risk to trumpet their cigarets as “light” or “low-tar”. Now, the FTC is fighting back by rescinding their authorization to use their measurements for the purpose of make official-sounding pronouncements about the safety of specific cigarettes.

The FTC method dates back to 1966, when that agency’s scientists believed that their measurements on tar and tobacco levels were accurate indicators of risk. They allowed cigarettes to use these numbers to lure smokers into complacency. However, recent studies have shown that the numbers do not accurately correspond to risk. Just one reason why: addicted smokers will just adjust their smoking habits to get the fix they need by taking bigger puffs from cigarettes with lower levels of nicotine.

Citizens have until August 12th to discuss this proposal before the FTC invalidates its measurements, but with public perception leaning heavily against smoking, the cigarette manufactures would be well-advised to start planning new boxes. Hopefully, they will not find another way to fool consumers into thinking that they can safely smoke.


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