WASHINGTON (AP) -- People who switch from regular cigarettes to brands marketed as "low tar" or "light" do not reduce their chances of getting smoking-related diseases, the National Cancer Institute said Tuesday.
"The use of these 'decreased risk' cigarettes have not significantly decreased the disease risk," an NCI report concluded.
It found some people who switched to low-tar brands smoked more to get the same amount of addictive nicotine, since the ratio between tar and nicotine generally remains the same in all cigarettes. Tar is a carcinogen that is produced when tobacco is burned. It helps deliver nicotine to smokers.
The report found that people who switched to light brands typically thought they were reducing their risk of developing smoking-related disease and that tobacco companies contributed to those assumptions through advertising and marketing campaigns.
The study also found that cigarettes that yielded low tar and nicotine levels when tested on Federal Trade Commission machines had higher levels when smoked by people, partly because they take larger puffs and smoke more of the cigarette. In addition, smokers can inadvertently cover ventilation holes in the filter that are designed to lower tar levels.
"When they do that, they get a full dose of tar and they don't have any risk reduction," said Dr. David Burns, the study's lead author.
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