Tobacco: nicotine and tar levels are three times higher than European standards

The tar yields measured by the "Canadian Intense" method are 2 to 26 times higher than those measured by the "prescribed ISO" method. For nicotine and carbon monoxide levels are 2 to 17 and 2 to 20 times higher with the Canadian Intense method.

All tobacco users know that smoking is bad for your health. They would nevertheless be surprised to learn that the levels of nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide contained in cigarettes are on average three times higher than the standards allowed in Europe.

Measuring method

To understand this state of affairs, one must first look at the measurement method used to calculate tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide (TNCO) levels in cigarettes. Until now, these levels were measured using the "ISO prescribed" measurement method, in accordance with the EU Tobacco Products Directive. However, in this method, the measured smoke is mixed with air sucked through the ventilation holes of the cigarette filter. Researchers at the Royal Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands have therefore tried another measurement method, called "Canadian Intense", in which the famous holes are closed with tape.

In this new study, RIVM measured tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels from 100 brands of cigarettes, using the "Canadian Intense" method. These results were compared with reported levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels by manufacturers and importers - measured initially using the "prescribed ISO" method.

As a result, the levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide measured according to the "Canadian Intense" are at least twice as high as the levels measured by the manufacturers. In some cases, the levels measured with the "Canadian Intense" method are even more than 20 times higher than those measured with the "prescribed ISO" method. The tar yields measured by the "Canadian Intense" method are 2 to 26 times higher than those measured by the "prescribed ISO" method. For nicotine and carbon monoxide levels are 2 to 17 and 2 to 20 times higher with the Canadian Intense method.

"TobLabNet"

It is also striking that the most important differences between the two measurement methods are reported for cigarettes with initially low TNCO levels. The results of this research demonstrate that the "prescribed ISO" method underestimates the amount of TNCO that a smoker ingests. The Royal Institute of Public Health and the Environment therefore recommends that an independent measurement method, such as the WHO TobLabNet, be included in the law, replacing the "ISO prescribed" method. .

Complaint for deliberately endangering the person of others

Last February, the National Committee Against Tobacco (CNTC) filed a complaint with the public prosecutor for "deliberately endangering the person of others" after discovering that nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide were higher than those displayed on cigarette packs. According to him, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brand and Japan Tobacco allegedly falsified the real rates. The filters of the majority of cigarettes would in fact be pierced with micro-perforations imperceptible to the naked eye. This system, initially used to modulate the taste of the cigarette, could also be used to distort the results of official tests, according to the CNTC.

These micro-orifices allow dilution of the smoke when tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels are measured with a standard smoking machine. By cons, when the cigarette is consumed, the lips and fingers of the smoker block micro-perforations, which is worth inhaling levels of nicotine and tars higher than those shown on its package. More specifically, the levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide that enter the lungs of some smokers are between two to ten times higher than they think.

The CNCT said in a statement that criminal proceedings "also initiated in other countries (the Netherlands, Switzerland) with the support of patient associations". "The objective is that with this trial, we show once again that the tobacco industry is deceiving and is unspeakable in terms of behavior", explained to France Info Professor Yves Martinet, president of the CNCT.

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