January 13, 2010 - Smokers who switch to a low-tar, 'light' or 'mild' brand of cigarette have about a 50pc lower chance of quitting the habit, new research shows.
So-called low-tar cigarettes may seem like the healthier option but when smoked, they deliver amounts of tar, nicotine, and other substances that are comparable with regular cigarettes.
PAPER: Switching to “lighter” cigarettes and quitting smoking H A Tindle, S Shiffman, A M Hartman, J E Bost Tob Control 2009;18:485-490, ABSTRACT..
The research comes as thousands of Ireland's smokers -- who still make up 29pc of the population -- embark on a new year drive to break free from their addiction. The findings on quitting among switchers are based on almost 31,000 smokers who were quizzed about whether they had switched to a milder/low-tar brand, and their reasons for doing so. They were also asked if they had attempted to give up smoking altogether during the previous 12 months, and whether they had managed to keep it up.
The total sample, undertaken in the United States, included more than 29,000 people who were current smokers and almost 2,000 who had given up for at least 90 days. In all, 12,000 people (38pc) had switched to a lighter brand, with one in four citing flavour as the primary reason. Forty-three per cent offered reasons for switching that included a desire to give up smoking altogether. Those who switched brands were 58pc more likely to have attempted to give up smoking than those who stuck with their original brand.
But the switchers who attempted to quit were actually 60pc less likely to be successful, the journal Tobacco Control reported.
In the entire study group -- including those who tried to quit and those who did not -- the overall odds of giving up smoking were 46pc lower among those who switched to a lighter cigarette.
Good tips for quitting include: Set a date to stop and stick to it; write down all the reasons you want to stop smoking. Keep your list somewhere handy to use as a reminder if you are tempted; keep a diary for a day or two -- record all the times and places you smoke, with a note of how much you needed each cigarette; get help -- let friends and family know you're quitting; quit together -- find others who would like to give up smoking and support each other; one day at a time -- concentrate on getting through each day without a cigarette.
Reference: Switching to low tar is not the answer to kicking habit by Eilish O'Regan, Indepednent.ie, 1/11/2010; Switching cigarettes may hinder smokers’ attempts to quit, Stop Smoking, 11/2009.
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