Massachusetts study finds tobacco companies increased nicotine content in cigarettes by an average of 10% from 1998 to 2004
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today sent a letter to top tobacco company executives urging them to halt a practice uncovered by a recent Massachusetts Public Health Department study that shows the industry increased the amount of nicotine in cigarettes by an average of ten percent from 1998 to 2004, making them more addictive and dangerous to consumers. To help raise consumer awareness in Illinois about the tobacco industry’s efforts to hook more smokers, the Governor also directed the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to begin collecting information on nicotine levels from cigarette makers and reporting it annually to the public.
“Your industry has been engaged in an aggressive public relations campaign aimed at improving your image and conveying concern about the health impact of smoking, yet at the same time, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that manufacturers increased the amount of nicotine that could be inhaled from cigarettes by an average of 10 percent from 1998 to 2004. Not only does this news severely damage the credibility of an industry that’s been trying to rescue its reputation, it represents a major blow to smokers across the country who are trying to quit and the public health officials working tirelessly to help them,” Gov. Blagojevich wrote in a letter to chief executives of Altria (formerly Philip Morris), Reynolds American, Inc., the Carolina Group (Lorillard Tobacco Company), and Liggett Tobacco Company.
“We will do what we can here in Illinois to make sure consumers have access to current information about nicotine content. Today I directed our Illinois Department of Public Health to collect data annually from manufacturers on nicotine content in cigarettes. I hope you will work with our public health officials to make public the nicotine content levels in all of your cigarette products annually,” the Governor’s letter continues.