Mass. May Force Cigarette Tests
BOSTON (AP) - Stepping up its battle with the tobacco industry, the state Department of Public Health is planning to force cigarette makers to test smokers' urine to show how much nicotine gets into their bodies.
The new testing proposal, if approved by the state's Public Health Council, would require the makers of 15 brands of cigarettes to observe the smoking habits of 65 smokers per brand to determine how their products are used in the ``real world.''
The companies would then be required to test the urine of those smokers over 24 hours to determine how much nicotine and carcinogens get into their bloodstream.
Massachusetts would apparently be the first state to do the tests. They're the latest effort by the state health department to ensure smokers know exactly what they're exposed to when they light up.
``This regulation is (about) a smoker's right to know,'' said Greg Connolly, director of the department's tobacco control program.
Since 1996, the industry has refused to comply with a state demand to release the ingredients in its cigarettes. That issue is now in court.
But in 1998, the state asked cigarette makers to release the exact contents of the smoke produced by their cigarettes. The industry complied earlier this year, and health department officials are now reviewing the information.
Data produced through the tests would validate the smoke content information, Connolly said. The testing proposal will be the subject of public hearings this summer and could be passed as early as this fall.
The data from the smoke contents combined with the urine test results would be the most complete picture - outside of the industry - of what is in cigarettes, according to Edward L. Sweda Jr., senior attorney with the Tobacco Control Resource Center at Northeastern University School of Law.
``It would be unprecedented,'' Sweda said Wednesday. ``We haven't s Several calls to representatives of tobacco companies, including Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, were not immediately returned Wednesday.