Harder, deeper, longer: experts warn that cutting down can change the way you smoke

Wednesday 14 March 2001

Embargo: 00:01 Wed 14th March 2001 No Smoking Day


Harder, deeper,<spanstyle=’font-size:14.0pt;’> longer – expertswarn that “cutting down” changes the way you smoke


Tryingto cut down the number of cigarettes smoked is a pointless strategy for smokerstrying to protect their health.  <ahref=”http: www.ash.org.uk=”” html=”” cessation=”” nsd2001.pdf”=””>New advice [1] published by the <ahref=”http: www.nosmokingday.org.uk=”” “=””>organisers of No Smoking Day based on <ahref=”http: www.ash.org.uk=”” html=”” cessation=”” cuttingdownseminar.html”=””><spanstyle=’text-decoration:none;’>expert analysis ofthe available evidence [2] suggests that people may have been lured into afalse sense of security. Fewer cigarettes may be smoked, but they are likely tobe smoked harder, deeper and longer – leading to just as much exposure to toxictar and noxious gases, like carbon monoxide. At the same time, smokers may feel they are doing something for theirhealth and lose the will to quit – which is the only approach that does work.  Clive Bates, Director of ASH said:


“It seems like common sense to advise cuttingdown, but actually it’s a losing strategy which gives the appearance of doingsomething for your health, while distracting from the real business of quittingcompletely.


“Once you see smoking as a form of nicotineaddiction, it is easy to see how smokers can get the nicotine they need fromthe fewer cigarettes by smoking them harder, for longer or drawing the smokemore deeply into the lungs.  If you cutdown, you are likely to change the way you smoke.


“It’s a bit like advising an alcoholic to cutdown intake by switching from wine to whiskey. It’s just a different way of consuming the same drug.


“There is no point in trying to cut down, youhave to tackle smoking head on and cut it out.


Aswell as cutting down, many people still believe that low-tar cigarettes offerthem health benefits.   This is nottrue.  Low tar cigarettes are justanother variation on the cutting down idea. With low tar cigarettes air is introduced through ventilation holes todilute the smoke [the tobacco is exactly the same].  Smokers adjust their smoking to take in more smoke to get thenicotine they need.  ASH and ImperialCancer Research Fund have shown this to be a deliberate tobacco industry ploy[3].


“Low tar cigarettes are one of the biggestconsumer confidence tricks in all of history. People think they are less harmful, but smokers just take biggerlung-fulls of diluted smoke and end up with just as much tar and nicotine.


“The tobacco companies knew that low-tarcigarettes offered no health benefits, but promoted them to keep smokers buyingcigarettes even if they are worried about their health.


“Low tar cigarettes and ‘cutting down’ arediversions from the real business of quitting completely and likely to do moreharm than good in the long run.

[1] <ahref=”http: www.ash.org.uk=”” html=”” cessation=”” nsd2001.pdf”=””>To Cut down or to stop smoking… is there anyquestion: a report for No Smoking day 2001

[2] <ahref=”http: www.ash.org.uk=”” html=”” cessation=”” cuttingdownseminar.html”=””><spanstyle=’text-decoration:none;’>Report of an expert seminar[draft for consultation] 13th February 2001 on ‘cutting down’.

[3] <ahref=”http: www.ash.org.uk=”” html=”” regulation=”” big-one.html”=””><spanstyle=’text-decoration:none;’>Big one: Low tar cigarettesand how the tobacco industry fooled the smoking public


Contacts:         <spanstyle=’font-family:arial;’>Clive Bates: 020 7739 5902(office) 077 6879 1237 (mobile)  (ISDNavailable)

Amanda Sandford 020 77395902

NoSmoking Day: Doreen MacIntyre 020 7916 1653