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‘Light’, Menthol Cigarettes As Harmful As Regular Cigarettes: Study

“Light” cigarettes which are low on tar and nicotine are as harmful as regular ones.

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Updated:May 24, 2019, 10:57 AM IST
‘Light’, Menthol Cigarettes As Harmful As Regular Cigarettes: Study
Representative image. (Reuters)

“Light” cigarettes which are low on tar and nicotine are as harmful as regular ones, a new study has warned.

Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina also found menthol cigarettes are equally bad for health, while unfiltered cigarettes almost double the risk of smokers dying from lung cancer. "There was no difference in lung cancer incidence, lung cancer or all-cause mortality between regular cigarette smokers and light or ultralight smokers,” Dr Nina Thomas, who led the study, was quoted as saying.

"However, while smokers of light or ultralight cigarettes had lower dependence, they were less likely to quit smoking," she said, adding, "There was no difference in any of the outcomes when comparing smokers of mentholated versus unflavoured cigarettes.”

Dr Thomas said smokers of unfiltered cigarettes are, however, 40 per cent more likely to develop lung cancer. "They're 30 per cent more likely to die of any cause, and are more heavily nicotine dependent, when compared with filtered cigarette smokers."

Her team looked at the health records of 53,454 people recruited to The National Lung Screening Trial in the US between 2002 and 2004, according to The Sun. Dr Thomas, who presented the findings to an American Thoracic Society meeting in Dallas, said, "Since the 1950s, there have been several alterations to cigarettes, including the addition of filters and menthol and lowering tar levels, in response to public concern about health risks. Despite these changes, smoking remains associated with 90 per cent of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer related mortality."

The latest analysis sheds fresh light on the links between life-threatening illnesses and the types of cigarette smoked, she said. It used statistical and mathematical modelling techniques to calculate their effect on lung cancer incidence, mortality, deaths from all causes and tobacco abstinence.

Dr Thomas said, "All types of cigarettes confer serious health risk. In a screened population, those who smoked unfiltered cigarettes incurred the highest rates of lung cancer and death. While popular belief may be that a switch to light or ultralight cigarettes is a safer option, this study demonstrates there is no difference in clinical outcomes with regular smokers."

She added, "These findings should be used to inform smoking cessation efforts especially within the context of lung cancer screening."

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