OBJECTIVE: To evaluate awareness and knowledge of cigarette filter ventilation in a national probability sample of smokers of Ultra-light, Light, and regular cigarettes. DESIGN: Random-digit-dialling and computer-assisted telephone interviewing was used on a probability sample of daily cigarette smokers (ages 18 and above). SUBJECTS AND SETTING: 218 Smokers of Ultra-light cigarettes, 360 smokers of Light cigarettes, and 210 smokers of Regular cigarettes living in the continental United States. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Percentage of respondents indicating knowledge of the presence of filter vents and the consequences of behavioural blocking of vents. RESULTS: Many smokers had not heard about or seen the filter holes: 43% (95% CI = 36 to 50%) of smokers of Ultra-lights, 39% (95% CI = 34 to 44%) of smokers of Lights, and 47% (95% CI = 40 to 54%) of smokers of Regulars. About two in three smokers either did not know of the existence of rings of small holes on the filters of some cigarettes, or did not know that blocking increases tar yields: 69% (95% CI = 63 to 75%) of Ultra-lights, 66% (95% CI = 61 to 71%) of Lights, and 69% (95% CI = 63 to 75%) of Regulars. CONCLUSIONS: Smokers are generally unaware of the presence and function of filter vents-a major design feature subject to behavioural blocking by smokers and now present on most cigarettes in the United States. Smokers and policy-makers need to be informed about the presence of filter vents and how vent blocking increases tar and nicotine yields from ostensibly very low-yield cigarettes.
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