‘Cynical’ tobacco companies use additives to disguise passive smoking hazards

Monday 11 September 2000


Press Release

11 September 2000 immediate


‘Cynical’ tobacco manufacturers use additives to mask environmental tobacco smoke


After revelations[1] that tobacco companies added substances to mask the smell and visibility of smoke ASH reiterates calls for a proper regulatory framework for all aspects of cigarette design – including and especially additives.


Clive Bates,Director of ASH said: “The only effective way to deal with the harm caused by passive smoking is to have smoking restrictions, which the tobacco companies definitely want to avoid at all costs. They can’t do much to reduce the risks of cancer, heart disease, asthma and cot death to non-smokers, so it seems they went for a cosmetic approach to try to conceal the real dangers by dealing just with the acrid smell and visibility of smoke.   Once again they are trying to give false reassurance both to smokers and non-smokers, hoping that this will head off measures to deal with passive smoking.


“There is virtually no legal regulation of what can be put in cigarettes and no questions asked about what role any particular additive is supposed to have.  In the pharmaceutical industry, the companies would be required to justify any additions to their products and show these are safe.  We think it is reasonable that the tobacco companies should prove that anything they add to their products does not make an already bad problem worse.”


On 21st September the Government is expected to release its response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee report: The Tobacco Industry and Health Effects of Smoking [2] which called for a new regulatory agency which would regulate additives:


  1. We believe responsibility for licensing additives permitted for use in tobacco products sold in the UK should be passed to the Tobacco Regulatory Authority we propose below. We further believe that this body should take account of the overall public health impact of the inclusion of an additive in determining whether or not it should be permitted for use in tobacco products.


  1. We think that the position of the tobacco companies in withholding information on the additives their cigarettes contain is completely untenable. Consumers have a right to know what they are smoking,including the percentage of the product such additives form, and we believe that this information should be available on every packet. We believe the companies should immediately take steps to ensure this is done and that the Secretary of State should introduce measures to make such labelling a mandatory requirement for cigarettes sold or manufactured in the UK.


[1] Connolly et al. How cigarette additives are used to mask environmental tobacco smoke.  TobaccoControl 20009283-291

[2] http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmhealth/27/2702.htm

[3] http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmhealth/27/27ap37.htm


Further info: see ASH report on Additives at: https://www.ash.org.uk/?regulation


Contact:  Clive Bates, 020 7739 5902 (w) 0468 791237 (m)