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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
Fewer kick light cigarette habit
Image of a cigarette
All cigarettes are associated with health risks
People who smoke so-called light cigarettes are half as likely to quit than other smokers, research suggests.

A false perception of reduced health risks with low-tar and low-nicotine brands could be a factor, the US authors believe.

A third of those smoking lights said they had chosen this type of cigarette to reduce their health risks.

Yet by doing so they may be increasing their health risks, say the authors in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study of more than 12,000 smokers revealed those who used light cigarettes were about 50% less likely to quit than other cigarette smokers.

Misnomer

Although light cigarettes contain less tar and nicotine, they are still linked to smoking-related diseases such as cancer.

People who smoke light cigarettes are likely to inhale the same amount of hazardous chemicals because they inhale deeper to get enough smoke for a satisfactory nicotine 'hit', according to the National Cancer Institute.

Therefore, they remain at high risk for developing smoking-related cancers and other diseases.

All cigarettes are deadly
Amanda Sandford of Action on Smoking and Health

The only way to reduce the health risks is to quit altogether, say health experts.

Most of the light smokers in the study were women.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine team say its findings apply to some 30 million US adult smokers who smoke light cigarettes.

Author Dr Hilary Tindle said: "Even though smokers may hope to reduce their health risks by smoking lights, the results suggest they are doing just the opposite because they are significantly reducing their chances of quitting.

"Moreover, as they get older their chances of quitting become more and more diminished."

She said it was vital smokers were given accurate information on associated health risks.

European law bans misleading descriptions such as "light" and "mild" on all cigarettes sold in the European Union. In the US, however, no such laws exist.

Amanda Sandford, of Action on Smoking and Health, said earlier research in the UK backed the US study's findings.

"It's not surprising that even though logically people know that all smoking is harmful, the power of marketing is such that many people would be conned into thinking the so-called lower tar or light brands are less dangerous. All cigarettes are deadly."




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