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Twenty Percent of Smokers Believe That Cigarettes from Light Colored Packs Are Safer

Cigarettes that were once marketed as ‘light’ are in fact no safer than any other – which is why most Western nations now outlaw the use of the terms light or mild on packaging. Nevertheless, about 1 in 5 smokers still believe that cigarettes sold in light colored packages are less harmful.

All types of cigarettes cause very similar health damage and addiction, and because of this, cigarette makers in most Western nations can no longer use the terms ‘light’ or ‘mild’ in branding or packaging. Yet despite this prohibition, researchers out of International Tobacco Control  found that about 1 in 5 smokers is still misled into believing that some types of cigarettes - those sold in white, silver or gold packaging - are healthier than others.

In many countries, brands that used to be called light or mild used white, gold or silver coloration on packaging. Although these brands have now dropped terms such as light (for example, Marlboro Light has become Marlboro Gold) many smokers still equate these colored brands as light and less harmful cigarettes.

The study, which is published in the journal Addiction, presents research collected by survey of more than 8000 past and present smokers from the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. 

Key findings include:

  • One fifth of smokers wrongly believe that some types of cigarettes are less harmful than others
  • Slim cigarettes are wrongly perceived as less harmful
  • Nicotine causes most tobacco related cancers (this is false)
  • Filters reduce health risks (this is false)
  • American smokers are most likely to falsely believe that different types of cigarettes present different levels of health risk

Lead researcher, Dr. David Hammond, commented on the significance of the study results, saying,  "The findings highlight the deceptive potential of 'slim' cigarette brands targeted primarily at young women. 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 colour, without graphics or logos.

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