Despite an estimated 480,000 deaths per year due to smoking tobacco products, tobacco companies have marketed their products as safe and healthy for decades. After an undeniable link between smoking and cancer was made public in the 1960s, companies released "light" and "low tar" cigarettes, claiming they were less harmful to smokers' health. Today, they continue to argue that their products are safe. U.S. District Judge, Gladys Kessler of the District of Columbia, does not agree and wants to see some changes.
Nearly one decade ago, Judge Kessler ordered tobacco companies to stop marketing low-tar cigarettes as "safer" than regular cigarettes. Five years ago, she ordered these corrective statements to be added to tobacco companies' websites and advertisements:
- Many smokers switch to low-tar and light cigarettes rather than quitting because they think low-tar and light cigarettes are less harmful. They are not.
- "Low tar" and "light" cigarette smokers inhale essentially the same amount of tar and nicotine as they would from regular cigarettes.
- All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, and premature death - lights, low tar, ultra lights, and naturals. There is no safe cigarette.
Tobacco companies have yet to publish these statements, and continue to appeal the ruling. They say that research, conducted by consultants hired by their companies, supports their claims that "light" and "low tar" cigarettes are safer than regular ones. The findings of these consultants tend to differ from sources in the scientific community.
The American Cancer Society has found that the rate of deaths among smokers went up after "light" cigarettes were introduced to the market. The National Cancer Institute has reported that "low-tar" cigarettes do not reduce the risk of disease.
If you are a smoker who switched to "low-tar" or "light" cigarettes after being persuaded by tobacco companies that it was a healthier alternative, you have been deceived. Individuals such as Judge Kessler are working to ensure that future generations do not fall for the same ploy.
Source: Public Integrity