Prohibiting Display of Emission Numbers


Numbers incorporated into the name of brands represent another class of descriptors to distinguish between different varieties (see example below). These numbers typically correspond to the machine levels of tar emissions. There is extensive research showing that consumers perceive lower tar products as “healthier” than regular or higher tar products. When shown packages with different numbers in the brand name, as many as 80% of Canadian adult smokers recently reported that the brand with the lower number would deliver less tar and may lower risk.

A recent study conducted in the United States found that almost 90% of participants reported that a brand with the number “10” on the packages would have higher risk than an otherwise identical brand with the number “6” in the name.  Overall, the evidence base for prohibiting numbers is the same as in section 3.3: consumers are misled by these numbers regardless of whether they are provided by regulators as part of emission information or by the industry when printed voluntarily on packages.

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Current International Best Practice

To date, no country has prohibited tar numbers from appearing on packages, although a number of countries have removed requirements to display tar numbers.