Not all cigarettes are the same. Some brands have higher cigarette tar than others. The Consumer Council in China recently cited laboratory tests that found some brands of tobacco have tar levels that are 15 times higher than others.
There were 84 cigarette brands tested. All brands were found in compliance with the legal requirement of 17 mg per cigarette. One brand, Pine Prime, was found to have the highest amount of tar at 15 mg. According to experts, even low levels of cigarette tar could potentially be damaging to smokers’ health.
Tar Is Always Deangerous
Dr Leung Chi-chiu, a respiratory medicine specialist, stated that it should not be thought that smoking a cigarette with lower levels of tar is safe. Tar’s composition is very complicated that although the overall tar amount is low, there could still be very high amounts of substances that cause cancer.
When tobacco or other organic material burns at high temperatures, tar is produced. Although a smoker uses a filter, tar cannot be completely blocked, Leung said. He added that it is obviously more dangerous when the tar of the cigarette is higher.
Tar Levels Among Brands
In the latest edition of the Consumer Council’s magazine called Choice, the findings of the government laboratory tests have shown noteworthy differences in the cigarette tar levels in various brands.
Those with the lowest tar amount at 1 mg per cigarette were Virginia Slims menthol Rose, Pianissimo Menthol One and Marlboro Black Menthol One. Found with 14 mg tar are the Philip Morris menthol (US), Good Companion Deluxe (Hong Kong) and Wuyeshen (China). Found to have the highest amount of tar at 15 mg was Pine Prime, which is made in Korea. Among all the brands tested, the average level of tar found was 8.4 mg.
Tobacco samples that were tested in the tests held last December 2013 have been found to contain nicotine levels ranging from 0.1-1.2 mg/cigarette.
No tar, But Still Dangerous
The Consumer Council also mentioned about electronic cigarettes. According to the watchdog, ecigarette may not have tar, but could still have nicotine. These ecigs, they claim, are not exactly healthy alternatives to traditional cigarettes.
Different brands of ecigs offer different strengths of nicotine. Moreover, the World Health Organization has questioned ecig safety and warned everyone that inhaling excessive amount of nicotine could cause risks.
Leung added that there are scientific evidences that could suggest that the addictive substance has effects on the blood vessels and the central nervous system. There was also a report showing that nicotine can alter the moods.
Nicotine, however, is a substance that is present in other plants apart from tobacco. Even some of the common plant foods we eat like potato, tomato, broccoli and eggplant contain nicotine.
Nicotine is the primary substance that makes cigarettes addictive. However, other ingredients or components used in manufacturing cigarettes could further enhance the addictiveness of nicotine.
There are also studies that examined the usefulness of nicotine. These studies suggest that nicotine could aid in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other conditions.
In the end, Leung stated that the combination of tar and nicotine in cigarettes produces more damaging health effects.
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The Light Cigarettes
In relation to the tar issue is the light cigarette. Light cigarettes were redesigned cigarettes introduced in the 1950s and marketed with cellulose acetate filters that can trap tar. The filter tip also has ventilation holes to dilute smoke with some air. Its dried materials are wrapped in very porous paper so toxic chemicals could escape.
Analyzed using smoking machine, light cigarettes were found with tar levels lower than those of regular cigarettes. Yet, machines cannot know for sure how much tar a smoker inhales.
Studies also show that the design could have changed, but the risks of diseases remain. On June 22, 2010, a law was enacted to prohibit tobacco manufacturers from using the terms mild, low or light in their product labeling. Thus, tobacco firms started using color coded packaging.