Objective: To assess beliefs about the tar and nicotine delivery characteristics and health benefits of Light and Ultra Light cigarettes among cigarette smokers.
Design: Random digit dialed telephone survey conducted in September 1999.
Subjects: Daily smokers (n = 2120) of Regular (46%), Light (39%), and Ultra Light (15%) cigarettes in the USA. The sample was weighted to match the US smoker population on age, sex, and ethnicity.
Main outcome measures: Beliefs about Light and Ultra Light cigarettes were summarised on three dimensions: Safety (reduced health risk), Delivery (lowered tar and nicotine delivery), and Sensation (less harsh).
Results: Most smokers believed Lights and Ultra Lights were less harsh and delivered less tar and nicotine. On average, smokers believed that Lights afforded a 25% reduction in risk, and Ultra Lights a 33% reduction in risk. Light and Ultra Light cigarette smokers evaluated the risks of their own cigarette types more favourably. Light smokers had greater interest in quitting than Ultra Light smokers. Quitting intention was modestly related to beliefs about these cigarettes. Believing that Lights and Ultra Lights delivered less tar and nicotine and that they were less harsh each independently contributed to the belief that these cigarettes were safer.
Conclusions: Many Light and Ultra Light smokers believe that smoking these cigarettes impart a substantial health benefit, due in part to their experience that these cigarettes are less harsh and the belief that these cigarettes deliver less tar.