Campus and City Smoking Policies
Debunking the Light & Mild Myth
True or False?
Light and Mild Cigarettes – a Safer, Healthier
1. Light and mild cigarettes are a safer
and healthier alternative to regular cigarettes.
Light and mild cigarettes are just as harmful as regular cigarettes,
- share the same risk of lung cancer
- have similar amounts of nicotine and tar
- have the same chemicals found in cigarettes (carbon monoxide,
nail polish remover, insecticide, etc.).
2. But, tobacco companies test their less
harmful light and mild cigarettes, and label them as having
reduced levels of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. Therefore,
it MUST be true that light and mild cigarettes are safer than
Tobacco companies and marketers have clever ways of making light
and mild cigarettes appear to be less harmful than regular cigarettes.
The test machines they use are not representative models of real
- Tiny holes are inserted around the filter to allow extra air
to mix with the tobacco smoke, and so the cigarette companies
were able to reduce smoking-machine readings for tar, nicotine
and carbon monoxide readings.
- Smokers seal or block these vent-holes where air could enter
when they smoke. The holes are difficult to see, and are placed
on the part of the filter where they are automatically covered
by fingers and lips.
- Smokers can change their smoking patterns by inhaling deeper
and longer or by taking more frequent puffs. By taking longer
and more frequent drags on light and mild cigarettes, smokers
can inhale the same amount or even more tar and carcinogens,
than if they smoke regular cigarettes.
- Machines are mechanical and they do not change their inhalation
Health Canada requested a modification of smoking tests to imitate
how real smokers smoke, and found that nicotine levels are
actually higher on average for Canada’s leading ‘low’-yield brands,
and only slightly lower for ‘ultra-low’ yield brands.
3. The best way to reduce health risks
from smoking right now is by quitting.
Switching from regular cigarettes to light or mild cigarettes
has not been proven to be less harmful or a better way to reduce
harmful smoking health effects.
“Terms like light and mild were put on cigarette
packs to trick consumers into believing there is a difference
between the health damage done by different brands of cigarettes.
– Louis Gauvin, Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Council on
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