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Cancer panel says smokers being mislead by packaging

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is pondering recommendations by an ad hoc committee of the President's Cancer Panel, which said cigarette packaging misleads smokers by listing very low tar and nicotine contents and not indicating how much a smoker might actually inhale.

According to evidence presented to the panel smokers hoping to reduce the risk of disease often switch to low-tar brands especially those labeled "light" and "ultra-light." "Light" cigarettes account for 60% of cigarettes purchased. The panel wants packages to make clear that these terms relate to brand taste not to health risk. The panel wants tar and nicotine levels to be listed on all cigarette packages. Generic brands in particular which make up 35 to 40% of the market often do not list these levels. Carcinogens and other chemicals in cigarette smoke should be listed it said. Although the FTC will review the recommendations it warned that its jurisdiction extends only to false and misleading advertising not health claims.

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