Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Are light cigarettes healthier?

Many smokers have switched to "light" or "low tar" cigarettes thinking they are a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes. This assumption could not be farther from the truth. The numbers for tar and nicotine attached to brands of cigarettes comes from a smoking machine that "smokes" every brand of cigarettes the same way. These machines cannot tell how much tar/nicotine an individual smoker will receive because people do not smoke cigarettes the same way the machines do. Find more, here.

Since the 1970s, cigarette manufacturers have altered the composition and design of cigarettes to reduce the amount of nicotine and tar measured by federal machines. By lowering the cigarette emissions detected by federal machines, manufacturers could justify marketing these products as safer alternatives. Cigarette design revisions for these purposes include adding a filter, increasing the size of the paper wrap that covers the filter and adjusting the blend of tobacco with fillers and additives. Read more, here.

Smokers often choose light cigarettes as a way of lessening the damage to their bodies and abating their guilt. Even if light cigarettes do contain less tar and nicotine than the regular versions, that does not mean a person who smokes them inhales less of those compounds, according to past research and a new study from Japan. Doctors think that even though light cigarettes may appear more healthful, people smoke them more often, inhale deeper, or take more puffs off those types. Read more about this research, here. The full research, can be found here.

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