Surveyed by phone, more than half the respondents said they’d like
to see this information on cigarette packs and a quarter would like
to have access to it online.
Of the 7,000 constituents of cigarette smoke, 93 in particular are
quite toxic, said Dr. Kurt M. Ribisl of the Lineberger Comprehensive
Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“It’s pretty surprising how relatively few people have heard of
these yet many were interested in hearing more about them,” Ribisl
told Reuters Health by phone.
The most simple and effective messaging may be to list the chemicals
and, briefly, their health effects, he said. For example, cigarette
smoke contains arsenic, which causes heart damage, and formaldehyde,
which causes throat cancer.
Ribisl and colleagues surveyed nearly 5,000 U.S. adults by phone,
targeting high smoking/ low income areas and cell phone numbers.
Almost a quarter of respondents reported being smokers, most saying
they had smoked every day for the past month.
The researchers chose 24 harmful chemicals in tobacco and divided
them into six groups of four. Each participant answered questions
about one group of four chemicals, selected at random.
More than a quarter of respondents said they had looked for
information on the constituents of tobacco smoke, most commonly
young adults and smokers. More than half said they would most prefer
to see this information on cigarette packs.
Only eight percent of respondents knew that at least three of the
four chemicals they were asked about are present in cigarette smoke,
the researchers reported in BMC Public Health.
“Many people seek information on smoke components but not many find
it,” said Dr. Reinskje Talhout of the National Institute for Public
Health and the Environment at the Center for Health Protection in
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“Here they also seek it but in general don’t understand it very
well, so we developed fact sheets for the general public,” Talhout
told Reuters Health by phone.
Having this information may help smokers make an informed decision,
but there is no evidence yet on how it may change smoking behavior,
“If people hear about these components they are quite shocked,” she
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a list of harmful and
potentially harmful tobacco components available to consumers
(online here: http://bit.ly/1lNyDVo), and tobacco manufacturers are
obliged to send this list and amounts in their products to the FDA,
It’s still not clear how providing this information on packs might
change behavior, Ribisl noted, and it is possible that listing
amounts of chemicals will simply lead consumers to “comparison shop”
and choose a brand with marginally lower amounts of the same
dangerous chemicals, rather than quitting altogether.
“Both the Centers for Disease Control and FDA are very credible
sources about this information,” he said.
“One of the things I would like the FDA and others to think about is
what they can put on the side of the cigarette pack, what kind of
message can we put there to help create informed smokers,” he said.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/28SzZiW BMC Public Health, online June 23,
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