Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the world. A reanalysis of amounts of nicotine in major brand name cigarettes sold in Massachusetts from 1997 to 2005 has confirmed what reseachers have long suspected: manufacturers have steadily increased the levels of this addictive substance in cigarettes, probably in order to make it harder to quit smoking.

An independent analysis, based on data submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health by cigarette manufacturers, found that increases in smoke nicotine yield per cigarette averaged 1.6% each year, or about 11% over the seven-year period of 1998-2005.

Manufacturers accomplished the increase not only by intensifying the concentration of nicotine in the tobacco but also by modifying several design features of cigarettes to increase the number of puffs per cigarette. The end result is a product that is potentially more addictive.

The nicotine increase was consistent in all cigarette categories (mentholated, non-mentholated, full-flavor, light and ultralight).

Public health expert Howard Koh says, “Cigarettes are finely-tuned drug delivery devices, designed to perpetuate a tobacco pandemic, yet precise information about these products remains shrouded in secrecy, hidden from the public.”

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