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Dispelling the Myth of “Light” Cigarettes

With more than 46 million smokers in America, nicotine addiction is the most common form of chemical dependency in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Not only does nicotine cause serious health risks and premature mortality in smokers, but the psychoactive stimulant is as addictive as alcohol, cocaine, or heroin. Have you ever tried switching to “light,” “low,” or “mild” cigarettes in an attempt to lower your nicotine intake? These cigarette products are actually just as dangerous as regular cigarettes, according to the National Cancer Institute. In reality, no cigarette can ever be a safe cigarette.

Many smokers have the impression that tobacco products labeled as “light,” “low,” or “mild” contain lower amounts of tar and nicotine, and are therefore safer to smoke. This week, the Food and Drug Administration announced the ban of these misleading labels on cigarette products for all tobacco manufacturers. On June 22, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act required all tobacco manufacturers to cease production of cigarette products that are labeled or advertised as “light,” “low,” “mild,” or any similar terminology.

The law, which was first enacted in June 2009, also includes the restriction of advertisement, labeling, and warning labels on cigarette and smokeless tobacco products and ensures the public’s right to be informed of tobacco-related health hazards. As of July 22, tobacco manufacturers can no longer distribute products with these deceptive labels. However, cigarette products that have any of these labels may still be seen on store shelves because they were distributed for retail prior to this date.

“Light,” “low,” and “mild” cigarettes do not contain smaller amounts of tar or nicotine, and they do not have the ability to lower health risks, reduce susceptibility to addiction, or help smokers quit. Despite their appearance, smell, or taste, these cigarettes have the same capacity as regular cigarettes to cause smoking-related diseases and cancers. In a National Cancer Institute study, these types of cigarettes were actually shown to not increase a smoker’s ability to quit, but instead decreased their motivation to do so. The only treatment method that effective lowers a smoker’s risk of cancer, disease, chronic health problems, premature mortality, and infertility is smoking cessation. If you want to quit have relapsed after your quitting attempts, talk to your doctor about smoking cessation therapy.

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services, FDA US Food and Drug Administration, July 22 Milestone: Putting Out the Myth on Light, Low, and Mild Cigarettes

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