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Do “Light” cigarettes undermine cessation?
  1. John R Hughes
  1. University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, USA
  1. John R Hughes, MD, University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry, 38 Fletcher Place, Burlington, VT 05401-1419,{at}

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Despite significant tobacco control efforts, in the USA the average smoker tries to stop only once every 2.5 years.1 In Europe, it is even less frequent.2 One hypothesised factor to explain this reluctance to try to quit is that tobacco industry promotion of “Light” cigarettes as a reasonable (and of course easier) alternative to quitting has undermined cessation resolve.3-5 The articles in this issue are some of the best, if not the best, tests of whether this hypothesis is true and, if so, what one could do about it. This editorial summarises both this new evidence and prior evidence for and against this hypothesis.

Correlational studies

If Light cigarettes undermine cessation, one would expect Light smokers to be less likely to have quit by the time of a survey than regular smokers. Analyses of the 1986 Adult Use of Tobacco Survey data did find this pattern.3 6 Also, one would expect that …

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