Are Light or Mild Cigarettes Safer for You?

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

The 3 Week Diet

Some smokers would choose mild, low-tar, or light cigarettes thinking that these cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. After all, mild cigarettes feel and taste smoother and lighter.

But the truth is, mild cigarettes is no different from regular cigarettes – the health risks are just the same.



How did it happen?

To test the nicotine and tar level in a particular cigarette brand, authorities use a machine that “smoke” cigarettes in exactly the same manner. The problem is, people don’t smoke like machines, so the nicotine that a smoker gets varies from one person to another. So there is really no specific number that sets how much nicotine a person really gets from every stick of cigarettes. It still depends on the smoking behavior of that particular person.

The Trick

To get a favorable result, cigarette manufacturers placed small pinholes on the filters of mild cigarettes to function as “tiny vents” which helps dilute tobacco smoke with air when the machine puff the cigarette. The result – artificially low nicotine and tar levels.

Here comes the problem, most smokers are not aware of these “tiny vents”. So when they puff, these filter vents are either blocked by their lips or fingers, basically converting it to a regular cigarette. Without air diluting tobacco smoke, the get the same tar and nicotine as regular cigarettes.

Also, unlike machines, smokers crave for nicotine. Chances are, smokers will take deeper and more frequent puffs, or would smoke extra cigarettes within the day to satisfy their cravings. The smoker ends up getting more nicotine and tar, and other harmful chemicals than what the machine suggests. There is even the danger that the smoker gets more nicotine than regular cigarettes without even knowing it.

Another trick cigarette manufacturers do to deceive the smoking machine is by using easy to burn paper wraps so that it only takes fewer puffs before the cigarette totally burn down. Again, the result reflects a low nicotine and tar level.

What do cigarette manufacturers say?

Well, their own documents suggests that they are well aware of the possibility that light cigarette users will “compensate” by taking deeper and longer puffs. It also suggests that they are also aware of the difference between the machine-measured nicotine and tar levels and the actual nicotine and tar inhaled by smokers.

The bottom line…

The approach of tobacco companies is to promote mild cigarettes in a way to reassure smokers and to stop them from quitting smoking, and to mislead consumers in believing that it is a safer substitute to regular cigarettes.

You need to understand that there is no such thing as a safe smoking. The only way to reduce the health risks of smoking is to stop smoking completely. The good news is if you quit before you’re 50, you cut you risk of dying by 50% in the next fifteen years compared to those who continued smoking. Quitting smoking also lessens your risk of heart attack, stroke, lung cancer, and other chronic diseases.


The 3 Week Diet

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