Recision of “FTC Method” Ends 40-Plus Years of Tobacco Industry Deception

American Lung Association Applauds Unanimous Decision by FTC

(November 26, 2008)

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 26, 2008—Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) correctly—and finally—rescinded the Cambridge Filter Method or the “FTC Method,” a ratings system that was manipulated by tobacco companies to obscure the harmful effects of smoking so-called “light” and “low-tar” cigarettes. The tobacco companies will no longer be able to claim reduced tar and nicotine levels based on this test. In 2001, the National Cancer Institute found that smokers who use products that score lower in the Cambridge Filter Method do not reduce the risk for developing lung cancer and other smoking-caused diseases. 

While this is an important step, it also highlights the need for Congress to act quickly in 2009 to pass legislation that will grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over tobacco products. The legislation would, among other things, prohibit the tobacco companies from using the terms “light,” “low-tar” and “mild,” as well as other misleading health descriptors. This legislation overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July with a vote of 326 to 102. Despite having 60 sponsors the U.S. Senate did not act on the legislation this year. 

In September, the American Lung Association and other public health organizations urged the FTC to rescind the 1966 Cambridge Filter Method, stating that “machine-based measures of tar and nicotine based on the Cambridge Filter Method do not provide meaningful information about how much tar and nicotine are actually received by the smoker or about the relative health risks of different cigarettes.”

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