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Smokers in the United States used to be able to buy cigarettes that claimed to be «ultra-light», «mild,» or «light.»

Tobacco companies developed cigarettes that were advertised as a healthier choice than «regular» or «full-flavor» cigarettes in the 1960s and 70s, asserting they contained less tar and nicotine. Numerous studies were being published at that time that linked smoking to cancer, and this was manufacturers’ response to the issue.

Smokers noticed that the smoke from light cigarettes did feel smoother and lighter on the throat and chest, so it seemed true that light cigarettes must be healthier than regulars, but this was not the case. However, the idea that light cigarettes were a better smoking choice took hold and held fast for decades.

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