Cessation among smokers of "light" cigarettes: results from the 2000 national health interview survey

Am J Public Health. 2006 Aug;96(8):1498-504. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.072785. Epub 2006 Jun 29.


Objectives: A large proportion of smokers erroneously believe that low-nicotine/low-tar cigarettes, also called "light cigarettes" or "lights," reduce health risks and are a rational alternative to smoking cessation. However, the availability of light cigarettes may deter smoking cessation.

Methods: We analyzed the 32374 responses to the US 2000 National Health Interview Survey. Current and former smokers ("ever-smokers") were asked if they had ever used a lower tar and nicotine cigarette to reduce health risks. Multivariable logistic regression identified determinants of lights use and smoking cessation. Results were weighted to reflect the national population.

Results: Of 12285 ever-smokers, 37% (N=4414) reported having used light cigarettes to reduce health risks. Current abstinence was less often reported by ever-smokers who had previously used light cigarettes than by ever-smokers who had never used lights (37% vs 53%, P<.01). Adjusted odds of cessation among ever-smokers who had used light cigarettes relative to those who had never used lights were reduced by 54% (adjusted odds ratio=0.46, 95% confidence interval=0.41, 0.51).

Conclusions: Use of light cigarettes was common and was associated with lower odds of current smoking cessation, validating the concern that smokers may use lights as an alternative to cessation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotiana / chemistry*
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Smoking Cessation / ethnology
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tars / analysis
  • Tobacco Industry*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation / ethnology
  • Tobacco Use Cessation / psychology
  • Tobacco Use Cessation / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Tars
  • tobacco tar
  • Nicotine