|'Light' Cigarettes No Safer: Report|
Millions of American who thought "low-tar," "mild," or "light" cigarettes afforded them some protection for the health risks of smoking were wrong according to a report from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The report titled Risks Associated with Smoking Cigarettes with Low Machine-Measured Yields of Tar and Nicotine, concludes that changes in cigarette design over the last 50 years have not resulted in any benefit to public health.
"The monograph clearly demonstrates that people who switch to low-tar or light cigarettes from regular cigarettes are likely to inhale the same amount of cancer-causing toxins and they remain at high risk for developing smoking-related cancers and other diseases," stated Scott Leischow, Ph.D., chief of the NCI Tobacco Control Research Branch.
Public Health Effects
Developed in the 1960s, lower-tar or specially filtered cigarettes grew in popularity and now represent 97 percent of all cigarette sales in America. Despite a widespread consumption of the so-called "safer" cigarettes, NCI found that lung cancer rates continued to rise steadily between the late 1960s and early 1990s. An overall decline in lung cancer rates since the 1990s can be attributed to the decrease in smoking prevalence, and not to changes in cigarette design, says the NCI. Results of studies conducted in the United Kingdom produced similar results.
Quoting from the NCI report: "Surveys have indicated that among the estimated 47 million adults who smoke in the United States, people who are most concerned about smoking risks or are most interested in quitting use brands labeled "light" or "ultra-light." Unfortunately, the monograph finds that choosing lower-yield cigarettes is not likely to reduce tar intake and resulting disease risks. Furthermore, marketing and promotion of reduced yield products may delay genuine attempts to quit. There is no evidence that switching to light or ultra-light cigarettes actually assists smokers in quitting."
Smokers Tend to "Compensate"
The NCI study found that, "smokers who switch to low-tar or low-nicotine cigarettes from regular cigarettes "compensate" for the lower nicotine level by inhaling more deeply; taking larger, more rapid, or more frequent puffs; or by increasing the number of cigarettes smoked per day," thus canceling any possible benefit from smoking "low-tar" cigarettes.
In addition, NCI found that tobacco industry marketing strategies for "low-tar" cigarettes, intended to reassure smokers, tended to prevent them from quitting.
How Can You Reduce the Risks of Smoking?
Summing up the Cancer Institutes findings, Dr. avid M. Burns, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine stated, "The take-home message of this report is that the only proven way to reduce the disease risks associated with smoking is to quit."
View or Download the Entire NCI Report
You can read or download the entire NCI monograph Risks Associated with Smoking Cigarettes with Low Machine-Measured Yields of Tar and Nicotine, here. (Note that all files are in .pdf format, so you will need the free Adobe Acrobat .pdf file reader.)