Are Cigarettes More Deadly Today?

By Shawn Dwyer 06/23/14

Tobacco companies have worked hard over the last 50 years to make cigarettes more addictive and appealing to kids.

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According to a new report released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the cigarettes that are manufactured today are more deadly and more addictive than the cigarettes sold during the days of Mad Men.

The report showed just how drastically different today’s cigarettes are compared to their counterparts from 1964, thanks to tobacco companies extensively researching ways to amplify nicotine intake in order to keep customers addicted while finding ways to make their products more palatable, particularly to kids.

“We would have thought, with the tobacco industry claiming they don’t market to kids, that they wouldn’t be making design changes that increase the number of our kids who smoke,” said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “But they have, quietly and behind the scenes.”

Many so-called innovations made to cigarettes made by manufacturers over the last five decades have made it easier for smokers to become hooked. For example, tobacco companies have increased the amount of nicotine and the way it's administered in order to ensure addiction; flavorings like chocolate or liquorice have been added to mask the harshness of the smoke; ammonia compounds are also added to increase the speed with which nicotine hits the brain; and ventilated filters allow smokers to inhale more vigorously, which allows carcinogens to be drawn in more deeply into the lungs.

“At a very minimum, the FDA should act swiftly to require the tobacco industry to reverse all the steps they’ve taken to make these products more dangerous, more addictive, and more appealing to our kids,” Myers said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “I think this report tells us that the tobacco industry has not reformed over the last 50 years.”

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.