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Smokers Misled Over Safety of 'Light' Cigarettes

Jan 17, 2003 | www.clinnix.net Have you been duped by the tobacco companies?

Do you smoke low tar cigarettes thinking that they are healthier than normal ones? Do you think that low tar cigarettes are helping you to cut down? If so, you are just one of the many people who have been duped by the tobacco industry into buying so called light cigarettes, according to research published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

Low tar cigarettes are one of the big cons of the tobacco industry. People naturally assume that brands which are labelled 'light' or 'low' are somehow better for them than ordinary cigarettes.

In reality, 'low tar' cigarettes contain the same amount and the same type of tobacco as ordinary cigarettes. The only difference is the number of air holes in the filter. The amount of tar that is let through the filter is measured using a machine, not a real person. The machine does not mimic how people smoke in real life. In real life you inhale about the same amount of tar smoking low tar cigarettes as you do smoking ordinary brands.

This is because smokers compensate for the holes in the filters by inhaling more deeply, or right down to the filter instead of leaving any at the end, and even holding the cigarette in a certain way in the hand or mouth to get more nicotine. Most people do this without even noticing.

For this study, researchers sent questionnaires about smoking to a random sample of 2,000 people aged 18-70 in Geneva, Switzerland. They found that most participants believed that the amount of nicotine inhaled from one ordinary cigarette was equivalent to two light cigarettes or four ultra-light cigarettes. A quarter thought the risk of lung cancer was lower for smokers of light cigarettes than for those who smoked ordinary cigarettes, and nearly half thought that the numbers on the side of cigarette packs related to the actual amount of nicotine and tar in the cigarette, rather than how much was registered in tests using a smoking machine.

The survey also showed that people who smoked light or mild cigarettes were more likely to want to quit or cut down than those who smoked ordinary cigarettes.

The tobacco companies don't want you to give up smoking. They want you to carry on buying their cigarettes. That's why they invented the 'low tar' concept. After all, your habit is their profit.

The 'ultra low' labels are so misleading and irresponsible that the European Union is set to ban tobacco companies from labelling products as 'light' or 'low' in the near future. Until then you'll have to make up your own mind about what you want to do - carry on smoking, or stop. Cutting down on the number of cigarettes you smoke, or choosing 'low tar' brands just won't make any difference to the amount of nicotine and smoke that you inhale, and ultimately you're only conning yourself.

Full review:

Smokers buy so called 'light' or 'mild' cigarettes because they mistakenly believe that they are safer than ordinary brands, according to research published in Preventive Medicine.

The nicotine and tar 'yields' which are printed on cigarette packets are the result of testing cigarettes under controlled conditions. However, the amount of nicotine and tar which a smoking machine registers from so called 'mild' and 'light' cigarettes is very different from the actual amount a smoker gets from such brands. This is due to smokers 'compensating' for the lack of smoke in each drag by blocking the filter and ventilation holes in the cigarette, often subconsciously. There is also evidence to suggest that that such cigarettes increase the risk of lung adenocarcinoma, possibly because of deeper inhalation.

For this study, researchers sent questionnaires about smoking to a random sample of 2,000 people aged 18-70 in Geneva, Switzerland. There were 494 responses.

The survey showed:

Most participants believed that the amount of nicotine inhaled from one ordinary cigarette was equivalent to two light cigarettes or four ultra-light cigarettes.

27% thought the risk of lung cancer was lower for smokers of light cigarettes than for those who smoked ordinary cigarettes, and 32% thought the risk was lower for smokers of ultra-light brands.

42% of participants thought that the numbers on the side of cigarette packs related to the actual amount of nicotine and tar in the cigarette, rather than how much was registered in tests using a smoking machine.

Smoking light or mild brands was associated with being female, an intention to quit smoking, and an intention to decrease cigarette consumption.
The researchers concluded, 'Many smokers choose light cigarettes because they think that such cigarettes are safer or less addictive.' They added, 'The public should be further informed of the meaning and purpose of cigarette labels.'

A European Union law will soon come into effect which bans the terms 'mild' and 'light on cigarette packets. ln addition, health warnings will cover at least 35% of the front of cigarette packets and 45% of the back.

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