WASHINGTON -- The safest cigarettes on the market in terms of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide are Cambridge filters, Carlton filters and Now 100s filters, the government's semiannual rating of cigarettes said Tuesday.
All three brands emerged from the Federal Trade Commission tests with less than 0.5 milligrams tar, less than 0.05 mgs nicotine and less than 0.5 mgs carbon monoxide.
At the bottom of the heap was the Bull Durham king-size with 29 mgs tar and 25 mgs carbon monoxide. The worst nicotine rating, 2.1 mgs, was found in English Ovals king size non-filter cigarettes.
The FTC, which is under orders from Congress to produce the ratings every six months, also saidit is investigating a complaint from several tobacco firms that claim the commission test procedures result in a falsely low tar rating for Barclay brand cigarettes.
Barclay tested in the latest ratings at 1 mg tar. But the makers of competing brands have told the FTC its mechanical puffers that test cigarettes are being fooled because Barclay's filter design lets more air into the smokestream and does not dupliciate the way the cigarette behaves when placed between the lips.
In reality, the other companies have said, Barclay gives off more tar than the test indicates.
All three of the top brands in the latest list are packaged in a hard pack. Two are king-sized and the Now brand is 100 millimeters.
A second Now brand, the king-size filter in the hard pack, also tied with the leaders on both the carbon monoxide scale at less than 0.5 mg and the tar reading at less than 0.5 mg. But its nicotine rating of 0.1 mg kept it out of the top category.
The agency also said its latest tests show a big increase in the reduction of carbon monoxide. Cigarettes containing 10 mgs or less of carbon monoxide numbered 85, nearly double the 44 in that class in the last report.
It also said the latest report shows that 150 of the 200 brands tested have no more than 15 mgs of tar compared to 125 of 187 brands tested in May. In addition there are 10 cigarettes with less than 0.5 mgs of tar, one more than was the case in the last report.
Other brands showing less than 0.5 mgs of tar were the Now king-size filter, the Carlton king-size menthol filter, Carlton 100's filter hard-pack, Benson and Hedges regular-sized filter hard-pack, the Carlton king-size filter in the soft pack, the Cambridge king-size filter soft-pack and the Carlton 100s menthol filter hard-pack.
The following brands tested at 1 mg tar, slightly higher than the best:
Tareyton Ultra Low Tar king-size menthol filter; Barclay king-size filter hard-pack; Barclay king-size filter soft-pack; True Ultra One king-size filter; Now 100s filter soft-pack.
Those same brands also showed only 1 mg carbon monoxide.