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"Light" Cigarettes aren't Safe Either

Armen Hareyan's picture

You may think that "light" cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. They're not.

Light cigarettes put smokers at the same risk for smoking-related health problems as regular cigarettes. Some cigarette packs say that light cigarettes have lower tar and nicotine.

Don't let these claims fool you. Tobacco companies use smoking machines to figure out the amount of tar and nicotine in the cigarettes. These machines "smoke" every brand of cigarettes the same way. However, people don't smoke cigarettes the same way machines do. People may inhale more deeply, take longer or more frequent puffs, or smoke extra cigarettes to satisfy their nicotine craving. Smokers then inhale more tar, nicotine, and other chemicals than the smoking machine measures. Another way that tobacco companies try to make light cigarettes is by putting tiny holes in the filters to dilute the smoke with air.

However, many smokers block the holes with their fingers or lips, and it's the same as smoking regular cigarettes.
Steps You Can Take to Quit Smoking

You have the power to make the decision to quit and feel great.

Did you know that many people try to quit two or three times before they are able to give up smoking for good? Nicotine is a very addictive and powerful drug-it's as addictive as heroin and cocaine. The good news is that millions of people have given up smoking for good. It's hard work to quit, but you can do it!

Follow these steps to help you to quit for good:

Pick a date to stop smoking. Plan to quit in the next two weeks. Think about choosing a special day. If you smoke at work, quit on the weekend or during a day off, so you'll be cigarette-free when you return.

Tell family, friends, and coworkers that you plan to quit. Let the people important to you in your life know the date you will be quitting and ask them for their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out around you.

Create a fund. Each time you would normally buy a pack of cigarettes, put that saved money in a special place, such as an empty jar or envelope. Set a goal for yourself. Once you reach your goal, reward yourself!

Help yourself by knowing when you're tempted to smoke and how you'll get through the craving without it. Write down the times you're tempted to smoke and a list of things that you will do instead.

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Plan for challenges. Think about when you might be tempted to smoke, and try to be ready for those times. For example, when you get the urge to smoke, try to do something different-talk to a friend, go for a walk, or do something you enjoy like gardening or going to the movies. Try to reduce your stress with exercise, meditation, hot baths, or reading. Have sugar-free gum around to help handle your cravings. Drinking lots of water or other fluids also helps. You might want to change your daily routine as well-try drinking tea instead of coffee, eating your breakfast in a different place, or taking a different route to work.

Remove cigarettes from your home, car, and workplace. Get rid of things that remind you of smoking. Get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters in your home, car, and workplace.

Talk to your health care provider about medicines to help you quit. Some people have symptoms of withdrawal when they quit smoking, such as depression; not being able to sleep; feeling cranky, frustrated, nervous, or restless; and trouble thinking clearly. Even though smoking doesn't suppress appetite, you may also feel hungry. There are medicines to help relieve these symptoms. Most medicines help you quit smoking by giving you small, steady doses of nicotine, the drug in cigarettes that causes addiction.

Talk to your health care provider about which of these medicines is right for you:

nicotine patch: worn on the skin and supplies a steady amount of nicotine to the body through the skin

nicotine gum: releases nicotine into the bloodstream through the lining in your mouth

nicotine nasal spray: inhaled through your nose and passes into your bloodstream

nicotine inhaler: inhaled through the mouth and is absorbed in the mouth and throat, but not in the lungs

antidepressant medicine: helps relieve nicotine withdrawal and the urge to smoke

Get more help if you need it. Join a quit-smoking program or support group to help you quit. Personal support is critical. These programs can help you handle withdrawal and stress and teach you skills on how to resist the urge to smoke. Contact your local hospital, health center, or health department for information about quit-smoking programs in your area.

Last Updated: November 2003


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