All tobacco brands have been increasing the nicotine dosage in each cigarette steadily during the last six years, says a report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The overall increase has been about 10% during 1998-2004. The higher the nicotine dose, the more hooked you get - it is much more difficult to quit.

The only conclusion one could come to is that the tobacco industry has taken steps to secure sales by making people more addicted.

Massachusetts is the only US state with information on the nicotine content of cigarettes since 1998. It is also one of only three states that makes it compulsory for cigarette companies to submit data about nicotine.

Marlboro, the most popular brand, has been steadily raising the dosage in each cigarette. Kool, a popular menthol brand, has had its nicotine dose increased by 20% in six years. Over 60% of African-American smokers consume menthol brands.

Of concern to many parents is this quote from the report:
"Marlboro, Newport, and Camel, the three most popular brands chosen by young smokers, all delivered significantly more nicotine."

There are two ways one can test for nicotine intake. The Traditional Way, or the Real Way.

The Real Way

Smokers tend to partially cover the ventilation holes with their lips when they suck on a cigarette. If a test takes this into account nicotine levels entering the body have gone up.

The Traditional Way

The test assumes nobody ever covers any of the holes when sucking on a cigarette. This test indicates nicotine levels have fallen.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health used the 'real way' to test nicotine levels in the body of smokers and identified a 6% increase over the last six years. They found no difference in total nicotine intake between full-flavour brands and the so-called lighter and ultra-light ones.

If smokers are getting a heavier 'hit', health care professionals who are treating those trying to quit may have to adjust the strength of nicotine replacement therapies.

If the tobacco industry has been upping the nicotine dose in each cigarette:

1. Why has it been doing this?
2. Why has it been kept quiet?

This is terrible news for smokers who are trying to quit - to find out they are hooked to much higher levels of daily nicotine. Perhaps legislation should be brought in making the industry reduce nicotine levels by 6% every five years, until cigarettes eventually have no nicotine in them at all. Smokers would gradually become less addicted.

-- Massachusetts Department of Public Health
-- Click here to see the report online

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today