After 42 years, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ended a test to measure the amount of tar and nicotine in cigarettes.
According to the Associated Press, the FTC decided to discontinue the testing for two reasons: the test itself was flawed, and tobacco companies could use the results to promote one brand of cigarette over another.
The test was known as the Cambridge Filter Method, the A.P. reports, and on Nov. 26 the FTC commissioners voted unanimously to discontinue it. Saying that the FTC would no longer be a “smokescreen” for tobacco companies’ marketing programs, Commissioner Jon Leibowitz told the wire service, “Our action today ensures that tobacco companies may not wrap their misleading tar and nicotine ratings in a cloak of government sponsorship.”
Over the years, many cigarette advertisements had promoted low tar and nicotine levels in some brands, using the phrase, “by FTC method.” Insofar as the testing itself was concerned, it had long been criticized by scientists because it never took into account how people smoked, such as how deeply they inhaled, the A.P. reports.
The National Cancer Institute acknowledged that the Cambridge Filter Method did measure changes in design and quantity of tar and nicotine, but there has never been any evidence that so-called light cigarettes reduced disease caused by smoking, the wire service reports.