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Low Tar Cigarettes Harm Rather Than Help

The Korea Times – February 8, 2006 – Bae Ji-sook

In a desperate effort to quit smoking, many people buy special aids, while those who find that too difficult smoke “low-tar,” “mild” or “light” cigarettes.

However, recent reports say these methods could actually do more harm to the body, let alone not help one quit smoking.

Shin Yoon-jeong of the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs conducted a survey on 443 male and 57 female smokers in 2007 and found “people tend to smoke more and inhale deeper when smoking low tar cigarettes.”

About 63 percent of the respondents said they smoked “mild” cigarettes, “believing” this would be safer for their health.

However, Shin said this could cause even worse damage to their bodies. About 59 percent of the 316 low tar smokers said the number of cigarettes they smoked increased after switching to the lighter brand. Shih said that could lead the nicotine content in their bodies to increase even more.

Also many people said the lighter cigarettes did not give them confidence that they could quit smoking in the future, the report said.

“Low tar cigarettes increase addiction to nicotine, making it easier to smoke but harder to quit. We need to put more regulations on their production and marketing while holding more campaigns to let people know the reality of what they are smoking,” Shin said.

The smoking cessation aids, popular among chain smokers who have been smoking for more than ten years and are afraid of heavy withdrawal symptoms, can have serious effects, too.

The U.S. and Korean Food and Drug Administration recently ordered multinational drug maker Pfizer to add warning tags on its cessation aid “Champix” about possible suicide impulses it could bring to users.

The drug was one of the best selling items in 2007 but there were constant allegations that the drug brought with it potential side effects such as depression, anxiety and even the desire to commit suicide.

Also, according to the Korean no-smoking research center, there were hundreds of cases of nightmares, chest pain, vertigo, fatigue and tiredness among other effects after using nicotine patches.

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