WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it will revamp its long-criticized system for measuring tar and nicotine in cigarettes to better reflect the varied ways that people smoke.
Even though the new system--which would provide a range of nicotine and tar delivery per cigarette--would give smokers a better idea of what they're getting, the agency also proposed that companies warn consumers through their advertisements that lower ratings do not necessarily guarantee a safer smoke.
The FTC's test method was first developed in 1967, with hopes that brands lower in tar and nicotine would reduce health problems. Many consumers since came to believe that "light" cigarettes are safer than full-strength ones. However, research has shown that a light-cigarette smoker who puffs intensely can get just as much nicotine as those who smoke full-strength cigarettes.
The FTC's proposal also calls for mandated warnings in all cigarette advertisements that would explain the risks more fully.