By Lea Yu on June 1, 2010


Compared to smokers of foreign brand cigarettes, people who smoke American cigarettes are exposed to as much as triple the amount of certain carcinogens, according to a small study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today.

The study surveyed 126 smokers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, and is the first to compare smokers from different countries, according to HealthDayNews. By analyzing mouth level exposures as well as urine samples, CDC researchers found significantly larger traces of tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in American brand cigarette smokers and their cigarette butts. TSNAs derive from nicotine and are the main cancer causing compounds in tobacco.

We know that cigarettes from around the world vary in their ingredients and the way they are produced, said deputy director for science at CDC s National Center for Environmental Health Jim Pirkle in a press statement. All of these cigarettes contain harmful levels of carcinogens, but these findings show that amounts of tobacco specific nitrosamines differ from country to country, and U.S. brands are the highest in the study.

Researchers attributed the variations to differences in the location of production as well as the curing and blending process, but warned that these distinctions do not signify that certain brands are safer than others. The other three countries use a bright blend of tobacco that is flue cured, which gives them lower levels of TSNAs, compared to American tobacco.

Posted in Daily Briefing, Smoking and Tobacco Industry

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Brand group opposes government’s plain packaging for cigarettes plan

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Lansley claimed at the weekend that “the evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging”.

The idea could be incorporated in a forthcoming White Paper on public health due to be produced by the Department of Health.

It has met with opposition from the British Brands Group (BBG), a non profit organisation set up in 1994 to represent brand members on regulatory and commercial issues.

John Noble, director of BBG, claimed plain packaging was “bad news for consumers and markets”.

He said “Were products to be in plain packaging, essentially markets would be made generic, which means everybody would be competing on price. There would be no incentives for companies to invest in quality and there is also a risk that it might actually increase illicit trade.”

Calling into question Lansley’s claim that “the evidence is clear packaging helps to recruit smokers”, Noble said as far as he was aware, there was no research in the tobacco sector about the extent to which packaging “actually fulfils that function”.

BBG declined to name individual companies within its 24 strong membership, but Noble admitted they include two tobacco companies.

The previous government also considered enforcing plain packaging on tobacco products in a Bill that began going through Parliament two years ago, but that plan was dropped.

Alan Johnson, the health secretary at the time, said “There is no evidence base it actually reduces the number of young people smoking.”

Tobacco companies have come out against Lansley’s plan, with British American Tobacco (Bat) calling it “Christmas for counterfeiters”, and also claiming there was a lack of evidence that plain packaging worked to reduce consumption.

Bat manufactures Royals, Dunhill and Lucky Strike brands.

An ISBA spokesman declined to comment on the plain packaging issue, saying it was not within its remit.