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05 February 2010

What about ‘safer’ cigarettes like low tar, filtered and menthol?

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They aren’t really safer. If you smoke a cigarette with low tar and nicotine content in exactly the same way as a high-tar, high-nicotine cigarette, the negative effects will be less. But when smokers change to ‘mild’ brands, they often smoke more to get the same nicotine dose as before, often without realising they’re doing so.

A low-tar cigarette can be just as harmful as a high-tar cigarette if you take deeper drags, inhale more frequently or smoke cigarettes to a shorter butt length. Even if you smoke exactly the same as before, the health benefits are very small compared to the benefits of giving up. Also, smoking mild cigarettes is still smoking: you’re reinforcing the habit, and will be more likely to smoke other cigarette brands if mild brands aren’t available.

Menthol cigarettes produce a cooler sensation in the throat when smoke is inhaled. This may make them more damaging than non-menthol cigarettes, because you can inhale more deeply and hold the smoke for longer.

Read more:
Smoking and heart disease

 
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