Tobacco industry uses additives to mask odors
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Cigarette manufacturers have gone to great lengths to mask the acrid smell of secondhand smoke by adding chemical additives to their products, according to a review of tobacco industry documents.
``These documents suggest that this practice is part of an overall campaign to counter the decline in the social acceptability of smoking,'' report researchers from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in the September issue of the journal Tobacco Control.
After searching through some of the millions of pages of documents made available as part of the tobacco settlement, the researchers learned that the tobacco industry used additives and other technologies to alter the visibility, odor, and irritating qualities of the smoke. The manufacturers did this without necessarily altering the overall level of smoke or the chemicals that make up the smoke and did little testing to see if the additives changed the smoke's toxicity, according to Dr. Gregory N. Connolly and colleagues.
In particular, manufacturers have tried to tinker with some of the more cosmetic aspects of cigarette smoking, such as reducing the smell of cigarette butts. The investigators found that many campaigns focused on making cigarettes more acceptable to young women by trying to limit the stale odor that can get trapped in hair or clothes.
One such campaign by R.J. Reynolds was termed Project TF for ``Tomorrow's Female,'' which was targeted toward 18- to 34-year-old women smokers who ``want a fresher, cleaner smoking experience,'' according to the researchers.
By ``reducing the normal warning signs of exposure to smoke toxins,'' the use of chemical additives in cigarettes can increase the potential harm of the smoker and those that breathe in secondhand smoke, note the authors. For example, women smokers with young children ``may increase their child's risk of developing respiratory diseases through increased environmental tobacco smoke exposure if they themselves are not bothered by the smoke,'' Connolly and colleagues write.
The researchers are calling for the tobacco industry to disclose a list of ingredients, including chemical additives, in an effort to ``protect the public from the dangers of smoking and exposure to (secondhand) smoke.'' SOURCE Tobacco Control 2000;9:283-291.