We recently published an article on the subject of Filtergate, regarding the now infamous mini-vents in cigarette filters. These vents were designed to trick regulatory equipment that measures rates of tar and nicotine in cigarette varieties. The problem is that these tiny holes are blocked by the smoker’s fingers, who then inhales a great deal more than the packaging indicates. This situation is reminiscent of the Dieselgate issue in Volkswagen vehicles, that were designed to trick pollution emission measurements.
“This deliberate deception of public authorities and consumers, placing them at significant risk, means that a smoker today who thinks they are smoking a pack a day, are in fact smoking 2 to 10. All tobacco manufacturers are concerned. Similar legal proceedings are in progress in other countries, possibly involving smoking-related disease patient associations.”
This may be the first you hear of this news. Indeed, the CNCT announcement did not cause much of an uproar, despite the media coverage. Almost a month later, nothing has been done, there has been no government or corporate reaction despite the scale of the scandal.
A trick as old as cigarettes themselves
These vents have been present since the 50s. First, they represented a marketing strategy to sell “less harmful cigarettes” by watering down the smoke delivered by cigarettes. Yet, Big Tobacco quickly realized that, after regulatory measurement requirements, it was more profitable to simply stop communicating on these vents. The falsified data allows these companies a grand opportunity. To get smokers addicted all while convincing them cigarettes were not as harmful as they once were, and not simply via marketing, but with (falsified) scientific measurements that were supposed to be objective.
Unfortunately, the CNCT complaint seems to be more symbolic than anything else, and a few decades too late. Nowadays, nicotine and tar rates are no longer indicated on cigarette packaging. Big Tobacco’s reaction to the Filtergate scandal was representative of their attitude towards this health issue: they didn’t react at all. It seems like cigarette manufacturers are not worried in the least.