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Cigarettes pack
more nicotine

Cigarettes pack
more nicotine

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have found a surge in nicotine levels in more than 100 brands of cigarettes from 1997 until 2005, the Associated Press reports.

Using data submitted by cigarette companies to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, researchers discovered nicotine yield per cigarette had increased 11%, or 1.6% each year, over seven years.

"Cigarettes are finely tuned drug delivery devices designed to perpetuate a tobacco pandemic," Howard Koh, an associate dean for public health practice who worked on the analysis, told the AP. "Yet precise information about these products remains shrouded in secrecy, hidden from the public."

The increase is likely due to a boost in the amount of nicotine in raw tobacco, said Gregory Connolly, head of the Tobacco Control Research Program at HSPH. "There's something going on either with the type of tobacco they're using or the addition of more nicotine to the reconstituted tobacco. We just don't know," Connolly said to the AP.

Officials with cigarette maker Philip Morris USA said the study is faulty and misleading. The company reported the same nicotine levels in Marlboro cigarettes in 1997 and 2006. The study data reflect random variations in cigarette nicotine yields, both upward and downward, and those variations are not consistent, Philip Morris executives said.

Massachusetts is the only state to collect data on nicotine levels since 1997; two other states now require tobacco companies to provide similar information. (The Advocate)

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