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Maximum yields might improve public health—if filter vents were banned: a lesson from the history of vented filters


Filter ventilation is the dominant design feature of the modern cigarette that determines yields of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide on smoking machine tests. The commercial use of filter ventilation was precipitated by the 1964 United States Surgeon-General’s report, further advanced by the adoption of an official Federal Trade Commission test in 1967, and still further advanced by the inclusion of a gas phase (carbon monoxide) measure in 1979. The first vented-filter brand on the market in the United States (Carlton) in 1964 and the second major vented-filter brand (True) in 1966 illustrate this. Ultimately, filter ventilation became a virtually required way to make very low tar cigarettes (less than 10 mg or, even more so, less than 5 mg tar). The key to the lower tar cigarette was not, in effect, the advanced selective filtration design characteristics or sophisticated tobacco selection or processing as envisioned by experts (although these techniques were and are used); the key to the very much lower tar cigarette was simply punching holes in the filter. We propose that the banning of filter vents, coupled with low maximum standard tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide yields, would contribute to making cigarettes much less palatable and foster smoking cessation or the use of clearly less hazardous nicotine delivery systems. It may be necessary to link low maximum yields with the banning of filter ventilation to achieve public health benefit from such maxima.

  • ATC, American Tobacco Company
  • EU, European Union
  • FTC, Federal Trade Commission
  • ISO, International Organization for Standardization
  • PM, Philip Morris
  • policy
  • cigarettes
  • ventilation
  • tar yields
  • compensation

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