- Many people wrongly believe that smoking
low-tar or mild cigarettes are better for their health, says the Health
Education Authority (HEA).
- A survey shows that 36% of people who
smoke low-tar cigarettes believe they are healthier than other brands.
- But the HEA says this is misleading and
smokers are getting "a raw deal".
- Anti-smoking campaigners say the tobacco
industry has known for at least 20 years that low-tar cigarettes are a
- They register as better for smokers in
the laboratory, but campaigners say that in real life smokers adapt the
way they smoke which means they absorb the same amount or more tar from
- Clive Bates, a spokesman for anti-smoking
group ASH, said: "They need to get the same amount of nicotine to
get the hit they need so they adjust the way they smoke.
- "It is called compensation. They
take more puffs or inhale more deeply or smoke more of the length of the
- They also block the tiny ventilation
holes which are designed to draw in air and dilute the tar.
- Right to information
- ASH and the Imperial Cancer Research
Fund, who have updated a report on low-tar cigarettes to coincide with
the HEA survey, want the government to stop tobacco firms branding cigarettes
- "This gives them the appearance
of being the healthy option when this is not true," said Clive Bates.
- The Health Education Authority says smokers
are getting "a raw deal" and have a right to be better informed.
- In the US, where the anti-smoking lobby
is very strong, the Federal Trade Commission is evaluating low-tar cigarettes
and looking at ways to regulate them.
- Anti-smoking campaigners want the UK
government to adopt a similar stance.