Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Tobacco corporations kill ignorant Russians with 'light cigarettes'

According to the World Health Organization, Russia has the largest number of smokers after China, India and Indonesia.

Russia has the largest number of male smokers in the world (70.2 percent). This is actually the limit, since others will not start smoking because of their education, principles, state of health and other reasons. That said, tobacco producers have found new customers in Russia – women and children. The nation has already witnessed an increasing number of smoking women: from 15.5 percent in 2001 to 23.2 percent in 2007. The new target audience for light cigarettes is women aged between 14 and 40.

Unfortunately, under the influence of advertising most Russians think that light cigarettes are less harmful. The Levada Center public opinion poll showed that 24.4 percent of respondents consider that light cigarettes cause less damage to health than ordinary cigarettes. Moreover, this illusion is much more popular among smokers – 34 percent of smokers agree with this statement.

“However, the usage of such terms as “light cigarettes” or “cigarettes with low tar content” and other deluding statements is banned in 46 countries,” said Dmitry Yanin, the Chairman of the Board of the International Consumer Society of Russia. Among these countries are EU nations, China, India, Iran, Turkey, Thailand, Israel, Canada, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Uruguay, Chili and Panama. Armenia and Ukraine have also introduced the ban on the usage of the term “light”.

International scientific data showed that light cigarettes are not less harmful than other types and they are as addictive as ordinary cigarettes. In 2001 the US National Cancer Institute published the analysis of in-house documents of producers which showed that tobacco producers hide the truth about light cigarettes.

The level of tar and nicotine is measured with the help of “smoking devices”. Light cigarettes are not less harmful, for the apparatuses used to measure the level of tar and nicotine give wrong readings. In light cigarettes filter paper has small vent holes. When inhaling air is tested with a device, the air gets through these holes and triggers smoke formation.

But people smoke cigarettes in another way, differently from that used with smoking devices. A smoker pressures vent holes with fingers or lips during smoking.

Thus, the measurements taken by the above-mentioned devices show a lower level of tar and nicotine and the level of tar, nicotine and carbon oxide measure by ISO/FTC methods and indicated on cigarette packs are unreliable. This is the conclusion made by the WHO Scientific Consulting Committee on Smoking Production Regulation and the Canadian Ministry Consulting Council on Tobacco Control.

Addiction to nicotine is another argument against light and low tar cigarettes. Smokers become addicted to nicotine. The depth and frequency of inhalations changes to make up the lack of nicotine caused by the smoke rarefaction. To satisfy this addiction smokers take more light cigarettes every day, and inhale deeper and more often than they do when smoking ordinary cigarettes. The smoke from one light or low tar cigarette inhaled by a man or a woman may contain two or three times more tar and nicotine in comparison with the smoke inhaled by “the smoking device”. The same attitude is taken by Russian scientists of oncology.

The Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection currently works on a legal opportunity to ban the use of such terms as “light”, “super light”, “ultra light”, “mild flavour and delicate odour”, because the usage of unreliable information violates the law on protection of consumer rights.

Arguments and Facts

Translated by Julia Bulygina