The "low-tar" strategy and the changing construction of Australian cigarettes

Nicotine Tob Res. 2004 Feb;6(1):85-94. doi: 10.1080/14622200310001656907.


This article documents design changes in Australian cigarettes since the adoption of a "low-tar" harm reduction strategy in 1966. It also determines the relative contributions of specific technologies to machine-tested tar and nicotine yields in 1980 and 1994, using data from tobacco industry documents. Our findings are consistent with a first generation of low-tar cigarettes, which relied primarily on filtration efficiency, being displaced by a second generation, which relied heavily on filter ventilation and were more attractive to consumers. In 1980, both tar and nicotine yields correlated most strongly with filter density (r=-.66, p<.01, and r=-.70, p<.01), whereas in 1994 both tar and nicotine yields correlated most strongly with percentage filter ventilation (r=-.97, p<.01, and r=-.95, p<.01). We also found that median percentage alkaloid content of tobacco rods rose from 2.16% in 1980 to 2.4% in 1994, despite median nicotine yield declining from 1.0 mg to.58 mg. These changes can be expected to reduce the utility of the FTC/ISO yield testing system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Coal Tar / analysis*
  • Consumer Product Safety / standards*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Nicotine / chemistry*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Tobacco Industry


  • Nicotine
  • Coal Tar