Introduction: This study examined smokers' understanding of the relative tar deliveries of Ultra-light, Light, and Regular cigarettes, reasons for smoking Ultra-light/Light cigarettes, and the likelihood of both quitting smoking and switching to Regular cigarettes if they came to learn that one Ultra-light/Light cigarette gave the same amount of tar as one Regular cigarette.
Design: Ten- to fifteen-minute random-digit-dialed, computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) were conducted with both a national probability sample (n = 788) and a state random sample (n = 266) of daily smokers over the age of 18.
Results: Less than 10% of smokers in the national sample and only 14% of smokers in the state sample knew that one Light cigarette could give the same amount of tar as one Regular cigarette. Less than 10% of smokers in the state sample knew that one Ultra-light cigarette could give the same amount of tar as one Regular cigarette. Thirty-two percent of the Light and 26% of the Ultra-light smokers in the national sample, and 27% of Light and 25% of Ultra-light smokers in the state sample, said they would be likely to quit smoking if they learned one Light/Ultra-light equaled one Regular.
Conclusion: Many Light and Ultra-light smokers are smoking these cigarettes to reduce the risks of smoking and/or as a step toward quitting. However, these smokers are unaware that one Ultra-light/Light cigarette can give them the same amount of tar and nicotine as one Regular cigarette. Many of the Ultra-light/Light smokers sampled in this study stated that they would be likely to quit if they knew this information. Mistaken beliefs about low-yield brands are reducing intentions to quit smoking.