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May 18, 1979

Toward Less Hazardous Cigarettes

Author Affiliations

University of Michigan School of Public Health Ann Arbor

JAMA. 1979;241(20):2143. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03290460013009

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To the Editor.—  In a recent issue of The Journal, Gio Gori, PhD, and Cornelius Lynch, PhD, report on "[c]ritical levels of selected cigarette smoke constituents... expressed in terms of pre-1960 cigarettes that a smoker may consume without increasing his mortality risk substantially above that of a nonsmoker." These critical levels are translated into equivalent numbers of present-day low tar and nicotine cigarettes in order to provide information to help "the smoker to wean himself to progressively less hazardous cigarettes."While the authors' motivation is beyond reproach, their analysis is predicated on some highly questionable assumptions that, if wrong, challenge the validity of their conclusion. Here I will note only two such assumptions.First, the vast majority of current regular (eg, pack-a-day) smokers inhale. Hence, for a meaningful comparison between present-day low tar and nicotine cigarette smoking and the pre-1960 ingestion of smoke constituents, the latter must be associated with