Scientists Take Aim at Big Tobacco

Scientists in Boston are accusing the tobacco industry of deliberately producing cigarettes that appeal to young smokers, even though tobacco companies have agreed not to target youth.

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer reports.

PFEIFFER: Harvard researchers have found that tobacco firms adjusted menthol levels in certain brands of cigarettes to create a milder product. Their study shows tobacco firms then marketed those milder cigarettes specifically to young people. Co-author Gregory Connolly is with the Harvard School of Public Health.

CONNOLLY: If you had a low level of menthol it appeared that it was numbing the lung a little bit and making it easier for that young lung to absorb the nicotine and to take down the toxins associated with the smoke.

PFEIFFER: Connolly says that makes it more likely young smokers become addicted. He also says the strategy violates a national settlement prohibiting tobacco companies from targeting youth. The researchers support a bill that would let the federal government regulate additives such as menthol.

This program aired on July 17, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.


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