Are Light Cigarettes Safer Than Regular Cigarettes?

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Many smokers choose low-tar or light cigarettes because they believe that these cigarettes are less harmful to their health than regular or full-flavor cigarettes. These beliefs are based on smoking machine data that show lower levels of nicotine and tar in light cigarettes, and on marketing by tobacco companies that imply that the smoke from these cigarettes feels less harsh on the throat and chest than regular cigarettes. But these claims are misleading and mislead consumers. Smoking any kind of cigarette causes serious and often fatal diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disorders, and diabetes. It also increases the risk of death from all other causes, including accidents and suicide. Visit Our Site

Lighten Up Your Smoke Break: The Appeal of Light Cigarettes

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act bans manufacturers from labeling or advertising their products as “light,” “low,” or “mild” without a modified risk tobacco product order (MRTP) from us. But despite this law, we continue to see evidence that a significant proportion of smokers believe that light cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes and that the MRTP-required tar and nicotine measurements on cigarette packs or in advertisements reflect actual tar and nicotine levels in those cigarette brands.

Our analysis of nationally representative data from New Zealand finds that most smokers who use light cigarettes have one or more misperceptions about these cigarettes, which are consistent with international research. This provides further evidence that government action should include not only the adoption of FCTC requirements but also requiring plain packaging for all tobacco products, to eliminate misleading marketing.

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