Combating the 'Safe' Cigarette: Ethical, Public Health Issues and Regulatory Proposals
Cutler, Tony J.
Nye, David A.
Health Care Analysis: An International Journal of Health Care Philosophy and Policy 1999; 7(3): 297-308
Regulatory authorities have advised smokers who would not or could not quit smoking to switch to lower tar cigarettes. Smoking such cigarettes was seen as a means of reducing the harm caused by smoking, but not as offering a 'safe' smoking option. Correspondingly manufacturers have been required to place tar and nicotine information on packet labels and/or advertisements. This paper explores the possibility that the conventional format for conveying tar and nicotine information could be responsible for the belief, held by a significant proportion of smokers, that some brands of lower tar cigarettes are absolutely 'safe'. To deal with this situation it is suggested that changes should be made to health warnings, and tar and nicotine communications. Proposed changes to the latter are evaluated in terms of their ethical and public health implications. The authors conclude that brand specific warnings and a classification of cigarettes as either 'Very Dangerous' or 'Dangerous', is best suited to reconciling consumer needs for information with the public health objectives of reducing the harm caused by smoking.
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