New Report Details How Tobacco Companies Have Made Cigarettes More Addictive, More Attractive to Kids and More Deadly

Sen. Sherrod Brown Urges FDA to Protect Kids and Stop Tobacco Industry's Harmful Changes

Jun 24, 2014, 09:03 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Design changes and chemical additives introduced by tobacco companies in recent decades have made cigarettes more addictive, more attractive to kids and even more deadly, according to a report issued today by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The report, titled Designed for Addiction, details how tobacco companies purposely design cigarettes to make tobacco smoke smoother, less harsh and more appealing to new users, especially kids, and to create and sustain addiction to nicotine.  Tobacco companies have made these changes without regard for the health impact and actually have increased smokers' risk of developing lung cancer.

The report was released for the fifth anniversary of the landmark law, signed by President Obama on June 22, 2009, that gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products.  It calls on the FDA to require tobacco companies, at a minimum, to reverse the harmful changes they have made by issuing the first-ever product standards governing the design and content of tobacco products.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was a leading advocate for this law.  Senator Brown responded to the new report by condemning the tobacco industry for making its deadly products even worse and called on the FDA to take strong action to protect kids.

"It is unconscionable that Big Tobacco has taken a product as lethal as cigarettes and made it even more addicting—with the purpose of turning children into regular customers," Sen. Brown said. "Big Tobacco has achieved this by lacing cigarettes with additives that attract kids and make the poison go down easier. In order to protect American children, and slow the death toll of nicotine addiction, the FDA must take immediate and necessary action to stop these practices." 

While the U.S. and the state Ohio have made progress in reducing smoking, tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable death.  In Ohio, 15.1 percent of high school students and 23.3 percent of adults still smoke. Every year, tobacco use kills 17,700 people in Ohio and costs the state $5.6 billion in health care costs.

Nationally, smoking annually kills 480,000 Americans and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and economic losses.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids report shows how tobacco companies have:

  • Made cigarettes more addictive by controlling and increasing nicotine levels and enhancing the impact of nicotine.
  • Made cigarettes more attractive to kids by adding flavorings such as licorice and chocolate that mask the harshness of the smoke, menthol that makes the smoke feel smoother and other chemicals that expand the lungs' airways and make it easier to inhale.
  • Made cigarettes more deadly, as disclosed in the new Surgeon General's report on tobacco and health, released in January.  The report found that smokers today have a much higher risk of lung cancer than smokers in 1964, when the first Surgeon General's report alerted Americans to the deadly consequences of smoking. The new Surgeon General's report attributed smokers' increased risk of lung cancer to "changes in the design and composition of cigarettes since the 1950s."

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health organizations have called on the FDA to issue the first-ever product standard to reduce the toxicity, addictiveness and/or appeal of cigarettes and other tobacco products.  Among its key recommendations for accelerating progress in reducing tobacco use, the latest Surgeon General's report called for "[e]ffective implementation of FDA's authority for tobacco product regulation in order to reduce tobacco product addictiveness and harmfulness."

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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids