We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Light Cigarettes?

By Kate Lonas
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Sports n' Hobbies, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Light cigarettes are a product of the tobacco industry’s attempt to market what looked like a safer cigarette back in late 1960s. The difference between light and regular cigarettes lies not in the tobacco each contains, which is identical, but in the filters. Light ones generally have filters covered in white paper rather than the tan or cork-patterned paper of regular cigarettes. This color difference, however, is not a critical one.

The distinction that matters is harder to discern and has to do with ventilation: the paper covering of light cigarette filters has many tiny little holes punched in it. Under laboratory conditions, these perforations cause the proportion of air in each draw on the cigarette to be higher than that in a draw on a regular one. For a person accustomed to regular cigarettes, in fact, these multiple small punctures can make it difficult to draw adequate smoke.

More than 80% of the cigarettes sold in the United States are light cigarettes, also called low-yield cigarettes. People may prefer them to regular, or full-flavored, cigarettes because the diluted smoke they produce seems smoother and less dense, and therefore feels less irritating to the throat. The filters of ultra lights have even more holes than do those of lights and so create even thinner smoke. Most full-flavored cigarette brands have light counterparts, while some cigarettes exist only in light or ultra light versions.

A preference for light cigarettes may also derive from the notion that they are less harmful than regular cigarettes. The smoke is diluted, and this results in lower lab readings of tar, nicotine, and other components. The measurement of tar in lab tests of ultra lights ranges from 1-6 mg; lights can have anywhere from 6-15 mg of tar; more than 15 mg of tar qualifies a cigarette as regular. Because of the way people actually smoke, however, the lower numbers of lights and ultra lights may not be realized in practice.

The fingers and lips may block the perforations left unimpeded by the smoking machine used in the tests so that the proportion of air to smoke is not as high as it would be under ideal conditions. More significantly, people who smoke will do so until their craving for nicotine is sated, and that could mean smoking more cigarettes to compensate. There are no demonstrable health benefits in smoking light rather than regular cigarettes. For this reason, Canada and the countries of the European Union have banned cigarette manufacturers from labeling their products as "light."

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon946223 — On Apr 17, 2014

@Summing: That is because menthol is a lot worse than non-menthol cigarettes. Menthols also make your lungs bleed.

I smoke Marlboro Lights strictly now, but am not a regular smoker anymore. I smoke when I drink, stress, etc. I smoked regularly for nine years previously. I don't know exactly what it means, lips and fingers blocking out the air to smoke ratio when smoking a light cigarette, but I know that I don't take long drags to compensate for a high smoke fulfillment. My drags in are short and sweet. Sure, there are health benefits to anything that is smoked, but lights have less tar and crap in them.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Nov 08, 2012

It was pretty recently that most cigarette companies switched from using names like light and ultra light to simply calling those cigarettes by a certain color. So Camel Lights became Camel Blues.

I guess the thinking is that "light" is a misleading term that needs to be avoided if people are going to fully understand the consequences of what they are smoking.

By profess — On Nov 08, 2012
I know that a lot of people say there is no appreciable difference between light and full flavor cigarettes, especially when it comes to negative health effects, but I have always smoked light cigarettes, and I can barely make it through a full flavor cigarette from the same brand.

They taste and feel so heavy to me. By the time I get to the end of it I am practically panting. Maybe it is all in my head, but I definitely prefer light cigarettes.

By summing — On May 04, 2012

I am constantly having the debate with my mom over light cigarettes vs regulars. She insists that her Kool light cigarettes are better for her than my Marlboro reds. I know that reds are really bad for you, but I'm pretty sure that Kool Lights are too.

I have smoked her cigarettes before and they taste awful. They do not seem light at all. In fact, they seem even harsher than mine and hers are menthol.

By jonrss — On May 04, 2012

I smoked these cheap menthol light cigarettes for years. I know that they were not any better for you, but in the place I was living at the time they were cheaper. It was the kind of place where people were not looking to get less of an experience. There was not light beer, or light cigarettes or diet soda. Those things were the cheap stuff because no one wanted to buy them.

By Ivan83 — On May 03, 2012

I smoke light cigarettes and I feel like they really are lighter. Compared to the full flavor version of my brand they are definitely lighter. And compared to the ultra light version, mine are definitely heavier.

I have always heard that there is no such thing as a light cigarette but I only want to smoke lights. Even if it is a false distinction it matters some to me.

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.