Study Shows Smoking Myths Persist

Despite public health campaigns and new laws governing cigarette labeling, many people who smoke cigarettes still incorrectly believe that some cigarettes are less dangerous to smoke than others.

A new study found that 20 percent of smokers in Western countries mistakenly believe that cigarettes labeled “low tar” or “mild” pose fewer health risks than regular cigarettes.

False beliefs were highest among smokers in the United States, according to the study.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer for men and women, according to federal health statistics.

The study, which surveyed 8,000 smokers in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, also determined that many people falsely believe nicotine is responsible for causing most cases of cancer.

Some of the other false beliefs include believing that “slim,” or “smooth-tasting” cigarettes are safer to smoke, according to the study published in the journal Addiction. Smokers also incorrectly believe that filters can reduce the risk of cancer.

Dr. David Hammond, one of the study’s researchers, said the study shows the need for more regulation.

“The findings highlight the deceptive potential of “slim” cigarette brands targeted primarily at young women,” Hammond said in a news release. “The findings also support the potential benefits of plain packaging regulations that will soon take effect in Australia, under which all cigarettes will be sold in packages with the same plain color, without graphics or logos.”

Cigarette companies are no longer allowed to use labels like “light,” “mild,” and “low tar,” in more than 50 countries, according to the study, because they are misleading.

Sources: American Cancer Society, National Institutes of Health, the journal Addiction

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