`Secret' additives used to hook smokers

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MINISTERS PLEDGED yesterday to press for new controls over additives in tobacco after a report warned that tobacco companies were using them to make cigarettes more addictive.

More than 600 additives are used in cigarettes, including cocoa butter and ammonia, but smokers have no way of knowing which additives are used in different brands.

The disclosure, in a report by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) and Ash, the anti-smoking pressure group, drew an immediate response from Tessa Jowell, the Public Health minister. She said there was no statutory control over the combinations of additives and manufacturers were not obliged to list the additives on the labels of their products. "Smokers should have the right to know exactly what it is they are inhaling," she said. "As soon as the new European health commissioner is appointed I willseek a meeting to urge the Commission to bring forward a strong and clear plan of action."

Martin Jarvis, of the ICRF, said the rationale for using additives had been that they made low-tar cigarettes more palatable, but it was now recognised that low-tar cigarettes were just as damaging as regular ones.

Clive Bates, director of Ash, said additives included flavourings such as sugar and chocolate to give a mellower smoke as well as ammonia, which was thought to be the secret behind the success of Marlboro. By raising the alkalinity of the smoke, ammonia raised the availability of "free" nicotine.

John Carlisle, spokesman for the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, said yesterday: "We reject any accusation that we include additives to increase so-called addiction."