SRNT is the only international scientific society dedicated to fostering and disseminating research on tobacco and nicotine treatobacco.net logo Society for the Study of Addiction
Search treatobacco.net
* see translation disclaimer below
Some key links


"Reduced risk" cigarettes including low tar cigarettes and novel tobacco products that deliver nicotine with minimal combustion of tobacco are promoted, implicitly or explicitly, to reduce the harm from smoking. None of these products have been determined to reduce the risk of cigarette smoking or to aid smoking cessation. Nicotine replacement therapy, bupropion, varenicline and other medications to aid smoking cessation are most likely safer than any "reduced risk" cigarette.



Low tar cigarettes have not been determined to reduce the health hazards of smoking, while they do provide adequate nicotine to sustain nicotine addiction (NCI monograph 13). Some cigarette brands, such as low-yield or 'light' brands, and some novel smoking devices, such as R.J. Reynolds’ 'Eclipse' and Phillip Morris' 'Accord' have been suggested in promotional materials to be less hazardous than full-flavor regular cigarettes. Low-yield cigarettes are determined to be low-yield based on smoking machine testing. However, smokers do not smoke their cigarettes like the test machines, and smokers are easily able to get their desired dose of nicotine by smoking low-yield cigarettes more intensely, more frequently, and/or by covering ventilation holes over the filter (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996, NCI monograph 13). Research studies have shown that smokers of low-yield cigarettes take in similar levels of nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other tobacco smoke toxicants, compared to smokers of full-flavor cigarettes (Benowitz, 2001; NCI monograph 13; Hecht et al., 2005; Benowitz et al., 2005; Bernert et al., 2005; Blackford et al., 2006). Low-yield cigarettes have not been determined to substantially reduce the health hazards associated with cigarette smoking, and are not a good alternative to quitting.

Novel smoking products such as 'Eclipse' and 'Accord' are also promoted as less harmful.  These products are designed to heat rather than burn tobacco, with the expectation that lower levels of tobacco combustion products will be generated. In fact, there does appear to be some amount of burning of tobacco. Machine-determined yields of various oxidant gases and carcinogens appear to be lower with Eclipse compared to regular cigarettes. Machine testing of Eclipse using intensive smoking paradigms suggests that the yields of these toxicants are similar to the yields of some ultra-low-yield cigarettes. Studies of 'Eclipse' smokers indicate that they get similar or higher levels of nicotine and actually higher carbon monoxide levels compared to when they are smoking regular cigarettes (Fagerström et al., 2000). One study suggested that 'Eclipse' exposes smokers to the inhalation of glass fibers, which could be carcinogenic (Pauly et al., 1998). Industry data suggest that an electrically-heated cigarette substitute (Accord) produces lower toxin delivery, but much more research is needed to assess risk (Buchhalter et al., 2000). However, tobacco smoke has many carcinogens in addition to nitrosamines. None of the novel smoking products has been demonstrated to reduce any health risks of smoking or to promote smoking cessation. Finally, some studies suggest that low yield cigarettes might reassure smokers that there is a safer way to smoke, thereby undermining the motivation to quit, with a negative public health impact (Giovino et al., 1996).

In contrast to these products, nicotine replacement therapy, bupropion, and varenicline have been extensively studied and shown to be safe in smokers (see above). The latter are much preferred than novel tobacco products for reducing risk.



U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Risks Associated with Smoking Cigarettes with Low Tar Machine-Measured Yields of Tar and Nicotine. NCI Monograph 13. October 2001.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The FTC Cigarette Test Method for Determining Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide Yield of U.S. Cigarettes. NCI Monograph 7. 1996.

Benowitz NL. Compensatory Smoking of Low-Yield Cigarettes. In NCI Monograph 13: Risks Associated with Smoking Cigarettes with Low Tar Machine-Measured Yields of Tar and Nicotine. October 2001.

Hecht SS, Murphy SE, Carmella SG, Li S, Jensen J, Le C, Joseph AM, Hatsukami DK
. Similar uptake of lung carcinogens by smokers of regular, light, and ultralight cigarettes. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005; 14: 693-698. Erratum in: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006; 15: 1568. dosage error in text.

Benowitz NL, Jacob P 3rd, Bernert JT, Wilson M, Wang L, Allen F, Dempsey D. Carcinogen exposure during short-term switching from regular to "light" cigarettes. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005; 14: 1376-1383.

Bernert JT, Jain RB, Pirkle JL, Wang L, Miller BB, Sampson EJ. Urinary tobacco-specific nitrosamines and 4-aminobiphenyl hemoglobin adducts measured in smokers of either regular or light cigarettes. Nicotine Tob Res. 2005; 7: 729-738.

Blackford AL, Yang G, Hernandez-Avila M, Przewozniak K, Zatonski W, Figueiredo V, Avila-Tang E, Ma J, Benowitz NL, Samet JM. Cotinine concentration in smokers from different countries: relationship with amount smoked and cigarette type. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006; 15: 1799-1804.

Fagerström KO, Hughes JR, Rasmussen T, Callas PW
. Randomised trial investigating effect of a novel nicotine delivery device (Eclipse) and a nicotine oral inhaler on smoking behaviour, nicotine and carbon monoxide exposure, and motivation to quit. Tob Control. 2000; 9: 327-333.

Pauly JL, Lee HJ, Hurley EL, Cummings KM, Lesses JD, Streck RJ
. Glass fiber contamination of cigarette filters: an additional health risk to the smoker? Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1998; 7: 967-979.

Buchhalter AR, Eissenberg T. Preliminary evaluation of a novel smoking system: effects on subjective and physiological measures and on smoking behavior. Nicotine Tob Res. 2000; 2: 39-43.

Giovino GA, Tomar SE, Reddy MN. Attitudes, knowledge and beliefs about low-yield cigarettes among adolescents and adults. NCI Monograph 7: The FTC Cigarette Test Method for Determining Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide Yield of U.S. Cigarettes. 1996.

treatobacco.net logo
Home | Sitemap