The FDA and Cigarettes

My dad, a smoker, has been complaining lately that his Camel filtered cigarettes are acting funny. They don’t stay lit unless he puffs on them more. First he thought it was a bad carton, but he’s bought several cartons since he noticed it (albeit from the same store) and he’s sure it keeps happening.

I’m a smoker too and I actually noticed this with my cigs (not Camel), independent of my dad’s claims. I just figured I wasn’t packing hard enough.

Lucky for Dad, he listens to AM talk radio :rolleyes: He heard a caller on a show mention that the FDA, which now controls the cigarette industry, “either added a chemical or changed the paper” which is causing this problem Dad is experiencing.

I don’t see how or why the FDA would do such a thing. If anything, the cigarette companies might do such a thing to make us smoke harder/faster.

But, Dad’s furious with The Government for making such a change without telling him (seriously). Since he’s not on the Internets, he has asked me to find out the Straight Dope.

I did a search and came up with nothing, other than the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act went in to effect in June (the FDA does have control to regulate cigarette manufacturing), the FDA is unhappy with e-cigs, and the FDA has banned cloves and “fruity” cigarettes.

Anyone have any info I can pass on to Dad? Any idea what the whacky talk radio caller may have been going on about?

I am all for answers along the lines of “no, there is no data to back that up.” Dad’s just coming to terms with having a black president. A black president that makes his smoking different, however, is just going too far.

Sorry for being citeless, but here’s what I remember hearing from Dr. Hurt, who founded the Mayo’s Nicotine Dependency Center.

Yes, the FDA as of this year does have some regulatory power over cigarettes. Yes, the FDA (IIRC, it might be another fed agency) is not happy with e-cigarettes, which I believe kinda frustrates the folks at Mayo, because they’d like to do research on e-cigarettes and dependency.

And yes, the FDA has required a change be made to the paper on cigarettes that makes them go out if one doesn’t continue puffing on them. This is a fire prevention measure.

Hearsay, I know, but the “FOAF” is pretty much the horse’s mouth. My memory ain’t perfect, but it’s better than my google-fu. HTH, or at least provides better leads for someone else to answer with cites.

The issue is Fire Safe Cigarettes. Look at the bottom of the pack on the edge and you’ll see FSC…on my Benson & Hedges, it’s near the barcode.

I read an article on the web (don’t have a cite, search Fire Safe Cigarettes on Google) that said that they’re putting some chemical ring in the paper every inch or so that stops the paper from burning and makes the cigarette go out. It’s supposed to prevent fires.

The law kicked in in Louisiana in August and all of the non-FSC cigarettes are gone. It’s been in effect in New York for about 8 years now and it’s supposed to be all over the country within a year or so.

They make the cigarettes taste bad, and some people have complained of worse than usual respiratory problems.

In my personal opinion, they couldn’t possibly prevent fires. When they start to go out, you have to puff on them and the unburned paper burns and hot glowing ashes go all over the place. If they go completely out, and you relight them, you get sparks. I’ve burned myself more since they started the FSCs than I ever have in my life.

I also find Marlboros to be completely unsmokable now. Which is why I’ve switched to Benson & Hedges. But at $6.00 a pack, I plan to go on the patch very soon anyway. I just don’t enjoy smoking anymore.

ETA: When you find the article, you’ll see that the FDA has labeled the chemical they’re putting in the paper “unsafe for human consumption when heated or burned”. It wasn’t the FDA that mandated the fire safe cigarettes, and it seems that if the FDA was regulating the tobacco industry in any way, they wouldn’t be using that chemical in the cigarettes.


What are e-cigarettes? They sound like something you’d smoke online.

Thank you very much. So it’s true, it’s just not the FDA.

For anyone that’s interested, here’s the coalition that’s working on getting the fire-safe laws passed

Here’s an MSNBC article on the topic

Here’s a petition to repeal the laws. At the top is some info about why the petitioners think the laws are bad (you have to scroll in the little scrolly box).

They’re electronic cigarettes, which are shaped like cigarettes and give you a way to inhale nicotine without releasing any smoke (the tube vaporizes the nicotine).

They’re made in China and the FDA doesn’t like them, as they’re not quite sure about the goings-on inside the little cartridges needed for “smoking” said cigarettes.

I’ll point out that regular cigs have chemicals in them to have them stay lit. This used to be an advertising point for Nat Shermans, which used no additives, and in fact were closer to little cig-sized cigars.

They switched over to FSC last year in my neck of the woods, and it annoys the hell out me. What I do is roll the cigarette between thumb and finger to loosen up the tobacco all along the length of the cigarette before lighting. This eases up the draw considerably. Note that if you do this, you have to be careful while lighting it because you’ll often get burning embers falling off the tip. I deal with this by holding an ashtray under the cigarette when I light it.