The test method currently used in the EU to determine levels of carbon monoxide, nicotine, and tar in cigarettes structurally underestimates the presence of those harmful substances, according to a Dutch study out this week.

Measured levels of tar were at least twice as high when using a different testing method, and up to 26 times as high, said the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) on Tuesday (12 June).

Nicotine levels were between two and 17 times as high, and carbon monoxide between two and 20 times as high.

The RIVM tested 100 cigarettes using the so-called Canadian Intense (CI) method. Only one cigarette had values below the EU legal limit.

The RIVM and the Dutch deputy minister for health, Paul Blokhuis, said that the CI test procedure was more realistic than the one that is currently used in the EU, by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

Both tests are done by machines.

Read more on the report here.