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Chemicals increase smoking's grip

LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) - Tobacco companies have been adding chemicals to
cigarettes to enhance their flavour and make them more addictive, a new report said on Wednesday.

The joint report by British charity Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), the anti-smoking group ASH and the U.S. state of Massachusetts revealed more than 60 tobacco industry documents dealing with the use of additives in cigarettes.

"They have taken a traditional tobacco product and turned it into a high delivery nicotine product," Dr Gregory Connolly, the director of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program, told a news conference to launch the report.

Additives are being used to initiate young people into smoking and to speed the delivery of nicotine to the brain, he added.

The report is based on internal tobacco industry documents about the use of additives which were released during recent tobacco court cases in the United States.

It calls for new regulations to force tobacco companies to disclose the additives by brand and level, similar to measures already adopted in some U.S. states. It also wants the additives to be tested for toxicity and addictiveness.

"This information should be made clear," said Clive Bates, the director of ASH. "They (the additives) are there to encourage smoking."

Britain's Public Health Minister Tessa Jowell welcomed the report and said the government supported European Union-wide action on tobacco additives.

"At a time when we are moving towards explicit and detailed labelling of the nutritional content of food we should not have lower expectations of cigarette manufacturers, and smokers should have the right to know exactly what it is they are inhaling," she said in a statement.

John Carlisle, of the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, dismissed the report as scaremongering.

"We totally reject any accusations that we are using any additives that would increase so-called addiction," he said in a telephone interview.

The report claims most of the 600 additives permitted in cigarettes in the European Union are not necessary and that few were used before 1971.

A 1965 document from British American Tobacco <BATS.L> which is included in the report talks about using ammonia to enhance nicotine transfer.

"The results show that ammonia treatment caused a general increase in the delivery of bases including a 29 percent increase in nicotine," the report quoted the document as saying.

"In other words, the nicotine transfer has increased as a result of ammonia treatment."

The report also suggests that additives such as cocoa may have been used to dilate the airways to allow smoke deeper into the lungs. Sweeteners and chocolate may have helped to make cigarettes more palatable to children and first-time users, and eugenol and menthol may have been used to numb the throat so the smoke does not feel so harsh.

Dr Martin Jarvis of the ICRF said tobacco companies claim they use additives to make low tar cigarettes easier to smoke, even though low tar cigarettes are just as harmful as regular ones.

"As some additives can make cigarettes more addictive, tobacco companies are making it even harder for those smokers wanting to quit to succeed," he said.


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