Tobacco products that are labeled or advertised with the terms "light," "low," or "mild" or similar descriptors mislead the public into thinking that these products cause fewer health problems than other cigarettes. However, they still pose a heavy health risk. Research shows that:
- Smokers who use light cigarettes do not reduce their risk for developing smoking-related cancers and other diseases.1
- Switching to light cigarettes does not help smokers quit, and may actually decrease the motivation to quit.2,3
In order to better protect the public from misleading claims, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act prohibits manufacturers from producing and distributing for sale any tobacco products labeled or advertised as "light," "low," or "mild" without a Modified Risk Tobacco Product order from the FDA. Manufacturers must meet rigorous criteria before we can issue an order authorizing the marketing of a modified risk tobacco product. If products are marketed as "light," "low," or "mild" without an MRTP order, FDA considers these claims to be health fraud.
- Tobacco-Related Health Fraud
- "Light" Cigarettes and Cancer Risk (NCI Fact Sheet)
- Modified Risk Tobacco Products
- Guidance: Use of "Light," "Mild," "Low," or Similar Descriptors in the Label, Labeling, or Advertising of Tobacco Products
1. National Cancer Institute (NCI). "Light" Cigarettes and Cancer Risk. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute. Updated October 28, 2010. http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/light-cigarettes-fact-sheet#q2. Accessed August 25, 2015.
2. Tindle H, Shiffman S, Hartman A, Bost J. Switching to "lighter" cigarettes and quitting smoking. Tobacco Control. 2009;18(6):485-490.
3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tobacco Control Act: Resources and FDA Regulations. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated July 20, 2015. Accessed August 25, 2015.