Nicotine Increase Press Release

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DPH Report

The amount of nicotine in a cigarette has increased steadily over the past six years, according to a new report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).

The study found that, regardless of brand, the amount of nicotine that is actually delivered to the smoker’s lungs has increased significantly over the past six years. The data was collected from reports submitted to DPH from 1998 to 2004 by all tobacco companies that sell cigarettes in the state, as required by Massachusetts General Law. Massachusetts is one of only three states in the country to require tobacco companies to submit this information annually.

“These findings are significant. This is the first release of information on nicotine yield in more than six years nationally. We want health care providers to know that smokers are getting more nicotine than in the past and may need additional help in trying to quit,” said DPH Commissioner Paul J. Cote Jr.

The report also found:

Overall, nicotine yields increased ten percent from 1998 – 2004.
As of 2004, 93 percent of all cigarette brands were rated high nicotine.
Marlboro, Newport, and Camel, the three most popular brands chosen by young smokers, all delivered significantly more nicotine.
Kool, a popular menthol brand, increased 20 percent. More than two-thirds of African American smokers use menthol brands.
According to a number of major recent health studies, the nicotine in tobacco is a highly addictive drug that affects nearly every organ in the body.

Increased levels of nicotine may make it more difficult for the average smoker to quit.

Increased levels of nicotine consumed by pregnant women can lead to developmental delays in childhood as well as low birth weight infants.
Nicotine changes the way that insulin works in the body. Smoking raises blood sugar levels, placing smokers at higher risk for developing diabetes and making it harder for those who already have diabetes to control blood sugar levels.

Medications designed to treat asthma, high blood pressure, and depression can lose their effectiveness in combination with nicotine.
“Smoking is a powerful addiction. Smokers often make multiple attempts to quit before they can successfully stop smoking. Increased nicotine yield may make it harder to quit, so smokers should be aware there are a variety of resources to help them,” said DPH Associate Commissioner Sally Fogerty.

The recent Health Care Reform Act provides MassHealth subscribers with free nicotine replacement therapy (patch, gum, lozenge, etc.) and counseling. The Commonwealth also provides free telephone help for all smokers at 1-800-TrytoStop, and a web site at