Tobacco Industry Watch

Big Tobacco's Guinea Pigs


How an Unregulated Industry Experiments on America's Kids and Consumers

Report Released Feb. 20, 2008

An insidious new generation of tobacco products is threatening efforts to reduce tobacco use in the United States, warns a new report issued February 20, 2008, by a coalition of public health organizations.


This report:

  • Details how tobacco companies take advantage of the lack of government regulation to design and market products that recruit new youth users, create and sustain addiction to nicotine, and discourage users from quitting;
  • Describes the new generation of products tobacco companies have unleashed to counter declining smoking rates and growing restrictions on smoking;
  • Demonstrates how effective regulation of tobacco products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as exemplified by legislation before Congress, can curtail the tobacco industry’s harmful practices and save lives.

Once limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and chewing or spit tobacco, tobacco products today come in more flavors, forms, shapes and sizes, and with more unproven health claims, than ever before.  Key trends include:

  • Flavored products:  Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and so-called “little cigars” have been introduced in many candy, fruit, and alcohol flavors that mask the harshness of the products and make them appealing to children.

  • Novel smokeless products:  New smokeless tobacco products, some in teabag-like pouches and even in dissolvable, candy-like tablets, have been marketed as ways to help smokers sustain their addiction where they cannot smoke.

  • Targeted products and marketing: New products and marketing, such as R.J. Reynolds’ Camel No. 9, are aimed at women, girls and other populations.

  • Unproven health claims:  To discourage smokers from quitting, and possibly entice new or former smokers, increasing numbers of products have been marketed with unproven and misleading claims that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

  • Undisclosed product designs: The report also details how tobacco manufacturers control nicotine delivery to maximize addiction, while using flavorings and other additives to make their products milder, easier to inhale and more attractive to children and first-time smokers.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing the nation nearly $100 billion in health care bills each year.  Yet tobacco products are virtually unregulated to protect public health.

Until the FDA is given authority over tobacco products, America’s kids and consumers will continue to be guinea pigs in the tobacco industry’s deadly science experiments.


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Big Tobacco's Guinea Pigs: How an Unregulated Industry Experiments on America's Kids and Consumers

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Recruiting New Users
Creating & Sustaining Addiction
Discouraging Quitting

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Disclaimers: Guinea pig image courtesy of Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation, No animals were harmed in the creation of this image.