Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Beliefs about “Light” and “Ultra Light” cigarettes and efforts to change those beliefs: an overview of early efforts and published research
  1. Lynn T Kozlowskia,
  2. Janine L Pillitterib
  1. aThe Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA, bPinney Associates, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Lynn T Kozlowski, PhD, The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Biobehavioral Health, 315 Health and Human Development Building East, University Park, PA 16802-6509, USA ltk1{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

When used as a descriptor for foods, the term “light” has unambiguous meaning. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labelling regulations for foods require that foods labelled “light” must meet uniform criteria as defined by the FDA. Specifically, light foods must be either reduced in fat by at least 50% or reduced in calories by at least one third.1 Consumers can therefore be assured that a food labelled “light” actually represents a generally healthier choice than the standard product. It would not be unreasonable, therefore, for consumers to assume that similar standards apply to the labelling of cigarettes. Unfortunately, this is not the case.2 3 Cigarettes are not currently regulated by the FDA, and unlike foods, cigarettes labelled light do not necessarily represent a healthier choice for smokers.

Light and Ultra Light cigarettes were first introduced in the 1950s and '60s as a response to growing public awareness of the health risks of smoking. Following their introduction, these cigarettes were aggressively marketed to diminish smokers' health concerns and reassure smokers that they could smoke with less risk. Once confidential tobacco industry documents provide irrefutable evidence that these brands were specifically introduced to provide health concerned smokers with an alternative to quitting:

“All work in this area should be directed towards providing consumer reassurance about cigarettes and the smoking habit. This can be provided in different ways, e.g., by claiming low deliveries, by the perception of low deliveries, and by the perception of ‘mildness’.”4“. . . ability to reassure smokers, to keep them in the franchise for as long as possible.”5“Quitters may be discouraged from quitting, or at least kept in the market longer . . . A less irritating cigarette is one route (indeed, the practice of switching to lower tar cigarettes and sometimes …

View Full Text