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Editor,—While the content of food, pharmaceutical products, drugs, and many other consumer goods are tightly regulated by governments, tobacco products, surprisingly, are not.
Tar and nicotine yields of cigarettes have progressively, but not universally, appeared on cigarette packets and advertising since 1967. These figures have been used to justify terms such as “light” and “mild” in descriptive advertising. In 1981 a US public health report concluded: “the preponderance of scientific evidence strongly suggests that the lower the “tar” and nicotine content of the cigarette, the less harmful would be the effect.”1
Some early reports concluded, plausibly, that a decrease in lung cancer mortality could be ascribed to smoking reduced tar cigarettes, although more recent data2 suggest that there is little if any difference in the long term outcome of smoking “low tar” as against “regular” cigarettes. Further there has been an increase in adenocarcinoma relative to squamous carcinoma, …