Cigarettes with a cork-colored smoking end, often designated “light” cigarettes, are those with a filter installed. Women’s light and ultra-light cigarettes also have filters, although they are typically still white on the end. The implication is that light cigarettes are safer for smokers, because of the filter. An examination of several factors determines whether or not experts believe this to be true.
A cigarette filter is virtually a plug or cap placed in the end of a cigarette, predominately made of a plastic known as cellulose (developed from wood). Manufacturers dissolve the cellulose and then spin it into continuous synthetic fibers, called tows, that look similar to cotton upon initial view. Manufacturers then open the tow, take the necessary steps to give it a plastic quality, shape it and then cut it to fit the cigarettes. Filters also contain chemical additives that make the cigarette smoke taste better such as menthol cigarettes and speed up the delivery process of nicotine to your brain.
When manufacturers first looked into producing cigarette filters in mass quantities, they designed machines to test their effectiveness. These machines were able to smoke filtered and non-filtered cigarettes under identical circumstances and compare them. The results determined by the machines were that the filters reduced the amount of tar and nicotine inhaled when “smoking” the filtered cigarette as compared to the non-filtered cigarette. On major flaw that anti-tobacco enthusiasts find in this testing method is that each human being smokes differently than a programmed machine.
As stated, cigarette filters have holes in them that allow outside air to come into the cigarette when a smoker inhales, which mixes with the smoke and dilutes the toxins. While machine testing apparently showed that this approach was an effective way to reduce the toxins in smoke, most researchers have concluded that filtered cigarettes are equally as bad for smokers as non-filtered cigarettes. For starters, smokers can cover the holes in the filter with their fingers or lips. Additionally, research shows that individuals who smoke filtered cigarettes (often deemed “light” cigarettes) inhale more deeply when smoking, and hold the cigarette smoke within their lungs for longer amounts of time. Both circumstances render the filter virtually ineffective.