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“Low-Tar,” “Light” Cigarettes: Lessons from a Dangerous Boondoggle
“Low-tar,” “light” cigarettes: Lessons from a dangerous boondoggle

The cigarette that takes the FEAR out of smoking.

—Advertising slogan, Philip Morris Cigarettes, 1954

Wherever the disease risks of smoking are well-known, filtered cigarettes or lower-tar and lower-nicotine cigarettes are promoted as less hazardous or safer. It seems sensible that, if tar is bad for a smoker, then a cigarette that produces less tar would be less harmful both to the individual smoker and society. Low-tar cigarettes (< 15 mg standard tar) are now the best-selling cigarettes in the United States. Nonetheless, the low-tar cigarette is a boondoggle—a scam—that gives smokers a false sense of security and keeps many health-conscious smokers from trying to quit smoking.

Cigarettes are called “low-tar” and “light” ...

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