Light cigarettes just as risky

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: December 18th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

For longtime smokers, kicking the habit can be one of the most difficult things they’ve ever had to do. Some try to ease into it by switching from regular cigarettes to low-tar or light versions.

But new studies have shown this move can actually be counterproductive. In fact, experts say smoking light cigarettes introduces the same amount of cancer-causing toxins as smoking regular cigarettes. People who smoke light cigarettes are also just as susceptible to heart disease and lung cancer as their regular cigarette-smoking brethren, studies show.

Currently, about forty-seven-million Americans are addicted to smoking. Those most concerned about quitting are most likely to use light cigarettes, a recent survey by the National Cancer Institute found. But its research showed that not only is there no evidence that these cigarettes help smokers quit, they might actually hinder a genuine attempt to stop.

Why? Partly because many smokers compensate for the lower nicotine levels in light cigarettes by inhaling more deeply, taking longer and more frequent puffs, and smoking more than they would with regular cigarettes. As a result, any potential health benefits are erased.

Experts say the only sure-fire way to eliminate the risks associated with smoking is to drop the habit altogether. Instead of switching to a low-tar brand, talk to your doctor about quitting. Brush your teeth, drink some water or go for a walk the next time you crave nicotine. Just remember, there’s no such thing as a safe cigarette.