147. Gallaher defined additives as "those substances
other than water, which are added to tobacco products in the course
of manufacture and which are intended to be burnt when products
Until 1970 the use of additives was subject to long-standing restrictions
imposed for "revenue reasons".
The Finance Act 1970 provided for tobacco duty to be charged on
additives; however, it was not until 1978 that restrictions were
finally lifted and statutory control of additives ceased.
The ISCSH was given the task of drawing up guidelines for the
testing and marketing of additives which it produced in its First
Report issued in 1975.
The then DHSS began maintaining an approved list of additives
(the "permitted list") which specified the maximum usage
for all additives.
148. The permitted list currently allows over 600
additives. Gallaher describes these additives as being "strictly
regulated" but that is not an interpretation we believe the
evidence can sustain.
More accurate, in our view, was the assessment of the Faculty
of Public Health Medicine who described the regulatory frameworks
as "wholly unsatisfactory".
They argued that although the additives were generally screened
for their toxicity "by ingestion" no separate testing
was carried out "under conditions of burning and inhalation".
They went on to suggest that the sole function of some additives
appeared to be to enhance the nicotine "hit".
149. The DoH described other problems with the current
regulatory framework. First, the UK is obliged to permit the use
of any additive approved for use elsewhere in the EU "provided
they have been assessed by a recognised scientific body".
But EU countries vary widely in their protocols for determining
which additives are permissible.
Second, there is "no compulsion" for the companies to
reveal the purpose of the additive; this is merely "desirable".
The Department also cited a recent article in the journal Tobacco
Control in which it is suggested that, before an additive
is licensed for use, it should "meet a test of public health
or public interest" and there should be an evaluation of
the "overall public health impact of the use of an additive".
150. In oral evidence the Department drew our attention
to proposals in the draft EC Directive to ensure that by the end
of 2003 all manufacturers and importers of tobacco products would
have to notify member states of the quantities of each additive
included together with a statement indicating the reason for inclusion
of each ingredient and data on the impact of these additives in
burnt and unburnt form to show they were safe.
151. The Department also cited a document jointly
produced by ASH and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund which claimed
that the internal documents of the US tobacco companies indicated
that their research had enabled them to use additives "to
perfect the engineering of the cigarette" as a "very
efficient drug (nicotine) delivery system".
The Chief Medical Officer expanded on some of the potential health
problems additives might cause. He argued that additives might
be hazardous to health "in their own right", might affect
the smoke chemistry which would be particularly a matter of concern
in respect of carbon monoxide and cadmium, might create free-based
nicotine making the cigarette more addictive, and might, by increasing
palatability make the cigarette more "desirable". He
went on to suggest that sweeteners and chocolate, which were reportedly
sometimes added, could make cigarettes "more palatable to
children", cocoa might dilate the airways allowing larger
amounts of tar to enter the lungs, additives might mask the smell
of smoke to make it "more socially acceptable" and finally
additives such as ammonia might predispose people to other illnesses.
152. Mr Wilson of Gallaher pointed out to us that
in the Virginia-tobacco based UK cigarette "hardly any additives
are used", a point expanded upon in written evidence, where
Gallaher pointed out it used only six additives in most of the
cigarette brands it manufactures for sale in the UK.
Both BAT and Philip Morris strongly disputed claims that individual
additives had the function of increasing the nicotine hit or encouraging
underage smoking. For example, Philip Morris refuted the suggestion
made by ASH that ammonia was used to increase the effect of nicotine.
They added that they did not design cigarettes to increase the
acetaldehyde levels in smoke and that no credible data existed
to suggest that acetaldehyde in smoke was addictive or increased
the effect of nicotine.
BAT offered a detailed rebuttal of ASH's allegations over the
effect of particular additives. They dismissed out of hand claims
made by ASH as to the purpose of additives, such as the suggestion
that cocoa, containing theobromine, might have a bronchodilatory
effect, or that ammonia boosted the nicotine delivery to smokers.
They described the ASH evidence in this respect as "inflammatory
At our meeting with BAT scientists in Southampton further detailed
answers were given to counter the ASH allegations. BAT also assured
us that it had engaged in discussions and presentations to the
Department of Health and told us it would like its dialogue to
continue so that it could meet the "Tobacco Policy Unit soon
to find a sensible way forward".
153. We strongly support the view of BAT that "objective
scientific appraisal" should be the basis for regulation
of additives but we do not believe that this currently applies.
We believe that regulation of additives should take into account
the overall public health impact of additives. For example, Dr
Dawn Milner, the Senior Medical Officer in the Tobacco Research
Unit of the DoH, told us that in the 1970s the Government had
had to agree to requests from the tobacco companies to include
more additives to make low tar cigarettes more palatable to consumers.
But the inclusion of such additives - given the current debate
over the actual health impact of 'lower' tar - should now, in
our view, be subject to review. We are not the appropriate body
to judge whether ASH or BAT is right in respect of their claims
and counter-claims over the role of additives. Given the pitiful
resources it dedicates to scientific research on tobacco control
(see paragraph 198 below) we cannot believe that the DoH itself
is well placed to make a judgement. In fact we believe that the
idea of teams of BAT scientists offering presentations to poorly-resourced
civil servants potentially represents a continuation of the highly
unsatisfactory situation of the past 25 years, amounting almost
to regulatory capture, in which the industry has been able to
run rings round poorly-resourced civil servants.
154. We welcome the fact that the proposed EU directive
requires manufacturers to submit evidence on the purpose of additives
and their impact in both burnt and unburnt form, but we do not
think that these measures go far enough. The Secretary of State
told us that he thought there had to be "an independent scientific
committee" at European level to assess the issues arising
out of additives.
We believe responsibility for licensing additives permitted
for use in tobacco products sold in the UK should be passed to
the Tobacco Regulatory Authority we propose below. We further
believe that this body should take account of the overall public
health impact of the inclusion of an additive in determining whether
or not it should be permitted for use in tobacco products.
So if an additive is toxicologically harmless in itself, but in
some way exacerbates the addictiveness of nicotine or makes cigarettes
more palatable for children, we believe it should be banned.
155. The current regulation of additives is weak
in another respect: neither the Department of Health nor the consumer
has any idea which additives can be found in which products. After
almost a year's delay the companies have, recently, submitted
to the DoH a list of additives used in their brands. In the Secretary
of State's view the limited information recently given was prompted
by our current inquiry.
However, the brands in most cases were anonymised and given on
a coded basis.
The Secretary of State told us that in his view the companies
should be obliged to pass on information on the additives by brand
to his Department, to us and to the consumer.
156. We felt it was completely unacceptable that
information on additives by brand has been withheld for so long.
So we required the companies to submit this information to us.
The five companies from whom we requested oral evidence all duly
submitted this material, though all considered it "commercially
confidential". Imperial, however, told us it intended to
make this material public shortly on its website.
We are not at all convinced by the argument for commercial confidentiality.
As our Irish counterpart Committee pointed out, it would be perfectly
possible for rival companies to establish what ingredients are
included in cigarettes by a process of reverse engineering.
Even if this were not the case we believe that this is another
area in which normal commercial rules should not apply.
157. Accordingly we have chosen to publish in full,
brand by brand, the list of additives formerly submitted in anonymised
form to the Department of Health. For the first time the UK consumer
will be able to learn what exactly he or she is smoking. For example,
someone smoking Lucky Strike King Size Filter Tip might be surprised
to discover that, apart from tobacco, the product contained such
things as sucrose and sucrose syrup, honey, licorice root, carob
bean extract and diammonium hydrogen phosphate. Benson and Hedges
Mellow Blend King Size has amongst its ingredients, sorbitol,
caramel, dried fruit extracts, ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer
and benzoic acid. Camel Lights offer such additives as glycerol,
honey, maple syrup extract and concentrate and magnesium oxide.
Marlboro King Size (Fliptop Box), amongst 20 or so ingredients,
provides cocoa, cocoa shells and extract, cocoa distillate and
butter, 4-Hydroxy benzoic acid propylene glycol and diammonium
158. We think that the position of the tobacco
companies in withholding information on the additives their cigarettes
contain is completely untenable. Consumers have a right to know
what they are smoking, including the percentage of the product
such additives form, and we believe that this information should
be available on every packet. We believe the companies should
immediately take steps to ensure this is done and that the Secretary
of State should introduce measures to make such labelling a mandatory
requirement for cigarettes sold or manufactured in the UK.