[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
July 27, 1994

A Proposal to Develop Meaningful Labeling for Cigarettes

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Pharmacology Branch, Addiction Research Center, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, Md (Dr Henningfleld); the Program in Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University, University Park (Dr Kozlowski); and the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry, University of California—San Francisco (Dr Benowitz).

JAMA. 1994;272(4):312-314. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520040074044

SINCE the 1980s, tobacco researchers have understood that the advertised nicotine-yield ratings of cigarettes do not accurately predict nicotine intake by individual cigarette smokers.1-5 Cigarette smokers obtain an average of 1 mg of nicotine from each cigarette they smoke, whether the nicotine yield is 0.1 mg or 2 mg.4,6 However, smokers with whom we have spoken believe that their "light" or "ultralight" cigarettes are providing them with substantially lower doses of nicotine and other constituents of tobacco smoke. These smokers seem to assume that nicotine-yield ratings are equivalent to the content ratings provided on food products, and they are often distressed to learn that nicotine-yield ratings are not indicative of how much nicotine they can obtain.

We propose a new strategy for testing and labeling cigarettes that would provide consumers with improved information about how much nicotine they will absorb by smoking a particular brand of cigarette. Our