Despite current prohibitions on the words 'light' and 'mild', smokers in Western countries continue falsely to believe that some cigarette brands may be less harmful than others. In fact, all conventional brands of cigarette present the same level of risk to smokers, including 'mild' and 'low-tar' brands.
Current research shows that smokers base their perceptions of risk on pack colour, believing that 'silver', 'gold' and 'white' brands are less harmful to smoke than 'black' or 'red' brands. The reason for those beliefs may lie in the history of cigarette branding. Cigarettes used to carry labels like 'light', 'mild', and 'low tar', and in some places they still do.
But in more than fifty countries cigarette manufacturers are no longer allowed to use those labels because they are misleading. In some cases, cigarette manufacturers simply changed their 'light' cigarettes to 'silver' and 'gold' brands - for example, Marlboro Lights has become Marlboro Gold. A significant percentage of smokers now seem to equate those colours with low-risk cigarettes.