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Which cigarettes do Americans think are safer? A population-based analysis with wave 1 of the PATH study
  1. Eric C Leas1,2,
  2. John W Ayers3,
  3. David R Strong1,4,
  4. John P Pierce1,4
  1. 1Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego, California, USA
  2. 2Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health, San Diego State University and University of California San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
  3. 3Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA
  4. 4UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Eric C Leas, Moores Cancer Center, 3855 Health Sciences Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0901, USA; eleas{at}

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Although the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 (‘the Act’) essentially banned the terms ‘light’ and ‘mild’ in cigarette marketing,1 unregulated attributes may perpetuate the misconception that certain cigarettes are less harmful.2–5 To aid the discovery and regulation of attributes that lead to harm misconceptions, we used a nationally representative survey to first identify cigarette sub-brands that smokers believed were less harmful.


This sample was composed of US adults who reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, currently smoking at least ‘some days’, reported their usual or last-smoked cigarette sub-brand and compared its harmfulness to other sub-brands in the 2013–2014 wave (wave 1) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health.6 Analysis was completed using the ‘restricted use file’ and was approved by the University of California, San Diego Institutional Review Board.

Respondents selected their usual or last-smoked cigarette sub-brand from a series of drop-down menus and then were asked if their sub-brand ‘might be “less harmful”, “no different” or “more harmful” than other …

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