BETHESDA, MdTobacco companies should be tightly regulated regarding how they formulate their products to increase nicotine(Drug information on nicotine), contends a tobacco-control advocate.
Nicotine is the tobacco industrys life blood, and it is quite literally the root cause of the modern lung cancer epidemic, said Clifford E. Douglas, JD. At the very least, the tobacco companies must be prevented from continuing to freely manipulate their products to cause and sustain addiction.
Mr. Douglas, who serves as a consultant to plaintiffs attorneys involved in lawsuits against tobacco companies, made his comments at a conference jointly sponsored by the Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education (ALCASE) and by the International Cancer Alliance.
Ways to Increase Nicotine Delivery
Mr. Douglas alleges that the tobacco industry has developed at least seven methods designed to increase nicotine delivery to smokers. He compiled the list, he said, from information developed from federal investigations, civil lawsuits, and documents obtained from tobacco industry whistle blowers.
1. Using high-nicotine tobaccos and also higher nicotine parts of the tobacco leaf to raise the nicotine concentration in lower tar cigarettes.
2. Adding what Mr. Douglas called completely extraneous nicotine.
3. Using ammonia compounds. They say the ammonia is for taste, Mr. Clifford said. Can you imagine saying that about what is essentially toilet bowl cleaner? Its not done for taste. Rather, they add ammonia compounds to cigarettes to increase the delivery of free nicotine to smokers by raising the alkalinity, or pH, of tobacco smoke.
4. Placing microscopic, laser-drilled ventilation holes near a cigarettes filter, knowing that smokers often cover the filter with their fingers or lips to compensate for lower delivery levels.
As a result, the smoke isnt ventilated properly, and the smoker gets more tar and nicotine than listed on the package. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking to revamp its testing methods to try to overcome yet another insidious tactic of the companies, he said. [See the article at left for details on the FTCs plans to test tar and nicotine content of cigarettes in a way that reflects this more intensive smoking behavior.]
5. Genetically engineering tobacco plants so as to increase their nicotine content.
6. Developing nicotine analogs that retain nicotines reinforcing characteristic in an effort to lower nicotine levels but . . . replace it with other chemicals that will have the same dependency-causing effect.
7. Including a variety of chemicals besides ammonia, which they call flavor additives, that have powerful phar-macologic effects and synergistically strengthen nicotines drug impact on the body.
Ideally, Mr. Douglas believes, the tobacco companies should be required over time, in a sensible, well-studied manner, to phase the addictive elements out of their products.