Reduced tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide exposure while smoking ultralow- but not low-yield cigarettes

JAMA. 1986 Jul 11;256(2):241-6.


An unresolved public health issue is whether some modern cigarettes are less hazardous than others and whether patients who cannot stop smoking should be advised to switch to lower-yield cigarettes. We studied "tar" (estimated by urine mutagenicity), nicotine, and carbon monoxide exposure in habitual smokers switched from their usual brand to high- (15 mg of tar), low- (5 mg of tar), or ultralow-yield (1 mg of tar) cigarettes. There were no differences in exposure comparing high- or low-yield cigarettes, but tar and nicotine exposures were reduced by 49% and 56%, respectively, and carbon monoxide exposure by 36% while smoking ultralow-yield cigarettes. Similarly, in 248 subjects smoking their self-selected brand, nicotine intake, estimated by blood concentrations of its metabolite cotinine, was 40% lower in those who smoked ultralow but no different in those smoking higher yields of cigarettes. Our data indicate that ultralow-yield cigarettes do deliver substantial doses of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide, but that exposures are considerably less than for other cigarettes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Monoxide / administration & dosage*
  • Cotinine / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutagens / urine
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Smoking*
  • Tars / administration & dosage*
  • Thiocyanates / blood


  • Mutagens
  • Tars
  • Thiocyanates
  • Nicotine
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Cotinine