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July 27, 1994

A Proposal to Develop Meaningful Labeling for Cigarettes

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