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FTC annuls Cambridge method claims

26 Nov 2008. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has annulled the guidance it issued 42 years ago which has allowed tobacco companies to make claims about tar and nicotine levels based on the Cambridge filter method.

The FTC said on Wednesday it voted 4-0 to rescind its guidance which allowed tobacco companies to put tar and nicotine figures on cigarette packages derived from the Cambridge filter method. The commission said the test method is flawed and that the figures were misleading as smokers tend to inhale more deeply when they smoke cigarettes with less tar and nicotine.

The resulting advertisements touting tar and nicotine levels could cause consumers to believe that lighter cigarettes were safer. "Our action today ensures that tobacco companies may not wrap their misleading tar and nicotine ratings in a cloak of government sponsorship," said Commissioner Jon Leibowitz. "The FTC will not be a smoke screen for tobacco companiesí shameful marketing practices."

The commission declined to weigh in on whether it would oppose the use of terms such as 'light' and 'ultra low,' saying that the Justice Department was already fighting that battle before the courts. (pi)