Light cigarettes — are they healthier than regular?

Many smokers choose «low tar,» «mild,» or «light» cigarettes because they think that light cigarettes may be less harmful to their health than «regular» or «full flavor» cigarettes.

After all, the smoke from light cigarettes feels smoother and lighter on the throat and chest so lights must be healthier than regulars, right? Wrong.

The truth is that light cigarettes do not reduce the health risks of smoking. The only way to reduce your risk, and the risk to others around you, is to stop smoking completely.

What about the lower tar and nicotine numbers on light cigarette packs and in ads for lights?

  • These numbers come from smoking machines that «smoke» every brand of cigarettes exactly the same way.
  • These numbers do not really tell how much tar and nicotine a particular smoker may get because people do not smoke cigarettes in the same way the machines do. And no two people smoke the same way.

How do light cigarettes trick the smoking machines?

  • Tobacco companies designed light cigarettes with tiny pinholes on the filters. These «filter vents» dilute cigarette smoke with air when light cigarettes are «puffed» on by smoking machines, causing the machines to measure artificially low tar and nicotine levels.
  • Many smokers do not know that their cigarette filters have vent holes. The filter vents are uncovered when cigarettes are smoked on smoking machines. However, without realizing it and because they cannot avoid it, many smokers block the tiny vent holes with their fingers or lips which basically turns the light cigarette into a regular cigarette.
  • Because people, unlike machines, crave nicotine, they may inhale more deeply take larger, more rapid, or more frequent puffs or smoke a few extra cigarettes each day to get enough nicotine to satisfy their craving. This is called «compensating,» and it means that smokers end up inhaling more tar, nicotine, and other harmful chemicals than the machine based numbers suggest.
  • Cigarette makers can also make the paper wrapped around the tobacco of light cigarettes burn faster so that the smoking machines get in few puffs before the cigarettes burn down. The result is that the machine measures less tar and nicotine in the smoke of the cigarette.

What is the scientific evidence about the health effects of light cigarettes?

  • The Federal Government’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently concluded that light cigarettes provide no benefit to smokers’ health.
  • According to the NCI report, people who switch to light cigarettes from regular cigarettes are likely to inhale the same amount of hazardous chemicals, and they remain at high risk for developing smoking related cancers and other diseases.
  • There is also no evidence that switching to light or ultra light cigarettes actually helps smokers quit.

What do tobacco companies say about the health effects of light cigarettes?

  • The tobacco industry’s own documents show that companies were well aware that smokers of light cigarettes compensate by taking bigger puffs.
  • Industry documents also show that the companies were aware early on of the difference between machine measured yields of tar and nicotine and what the smoker actually inhales.
  • The NCI report concluded that strategies used by the tobacco industry to advertise and promote light cigarettes were intended to reassure smokers and to prevent them from quitting, and to lead consumers to perceive filtered and light cigarettes as safer alternatives to regular cigarettes.

What is the bottom line for smokers who want to protect their health?

  • There is no such thing as a safe cigarette. The only proven way to reduce your risk of smoking related disease is to quit smoking completely.
  • Here’s good news Smokers who quit before age 50 cut their risk of dying in half over the next 15 years compared with people who keep smoking.
  • Quitting also decreases your risk of lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and chronic lung disease.

National Cancer Institute. Risks Associated with Smoking Cigarettes with Low Machine Measured Yields of Tar and Nicotine. Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph 13. Bethesda, MD NCI 2001
This article courtesy of NCI

Torches of freedom — wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Smoking as an inappropriate act for women edit

Before the twentieth century smoking was seen as a habit that was corrupt and inappropriate for women. Dutch painters used cigarettes as a symbol of human foolishness in the 17th century and in the 19th century, cigarettes were perceived as props of fallen women and prostitutes. 1 Women s smoking was seen as immoral and some states tried to prevent women from smoking by enforcing laws. In 1904 a woman named Jennie Lasher was sentenced to thirty days in jail for putting her children s morals at risk by smoking in their presence and in 1908 the New York City Board of Alderman unanimously passed an ordinance that prohibited smoking by women in public. 2 Similarly in 1921 a bill was proposed to prohibit women from smoking in the District of Columbia. 1 Some women s groups also fought against women smoking. The International Tobacco League lobbied for filmmakers to refrain from putting women smoking cigarettes in movies unless the women being portrayed were of discreditable character and other women s groups asked young girls to sign pledges saying that they would not use tobacco. 3 These groups saw smoking as an immoral activity and a threat. Yet during World War I as women took the jobs of men who had gone to war, they also began smoking even though it was still considered a taboo act. 1 Cigarettes were a way for women to challenge social norms and fight for equal rights as men. Eventually for women the cigarette came to symbolize rebellious independence, glamour, seduction and sexual allure for both feminists and flappers. 3

Advertising to women edit

Cigarette companies began selectively advertising to women in the late 1920s. In 1928 George Washington Hill, the president of the American Tobacco Company, realized the potential market that could be found in women and said, It will be like opening a gold mine right in our front yard. Yet some women who were already smoking were seen as smoking incorrectly. In 1919 a hotel manager said that women don t really know what to do with the smoke. Neither do they know how to hold their cigarettes properly. Actually they make a mess of the whole performance. 1 Tobacco companies had to make sure that women would not be ridiculed for using cigarettes in public and Philip Morris even sponsored a lecture series that taught women the art of smoking. 1

To expand the number of women smokers Hill decided to hire Edward Bernays, who today is known as the father of public relations, to help him recruit women smokers. Bernays decided to attempt to eliminate the social taboo of women smoking in public. He gained advice from psychoanalyst A. A. Brill stated that it was normal for women to smoke because of oral fixation and said, Today the emancipation of women has suppressed many of their feminine desires. More women now do the same work as men do. Many women bear no children those who do bear have fewer children. Feminine traits are masked. Cigarettes, which are equated with men, become torches of freedom. 4 In 1929 Bernays decided to pay women to smoke their torches of freedom as they walked in the Easter Sunday Parade in New York. This was a shock because until that time, women were only permitted to smoke in certain places such as in the privacy of their own homes. He was very careful when picking women to march because while they should be good looking, they should not look too model y and he hired his own photographers to make sure that good pictures were taken and then published around the world. 4 Feminist Ruth Hale also called for women to join in the march saying, Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo! 4 Once the footage was released, the campaign was being talked about everywhere, The women s walk was seen as a protest for equality and sparked discussion throughout the nation and is still known today. The targeting of women in tobacco advertising led to higher rates of smoking among women. In 1923 women only purchased 5% of cigarettes sold, in 1929 it increased to 12%, in 1935 the percentage of cigarettes purchased by women was 18.1%, this percentage peaked in 1965 at 33.3% and remained at this level until 1977. 5

1990s resurgence edit