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Smokers remain in the dark about tobacco industry

28 Nov 2014
Media Release 3 min read

Many people who smoke are unaware of the various ways in which their tobacco products are modified to make the harsh smoke easier to inhale, according to new research released today by Quit Victoria.

The findings reveal that most people who smoke are not aware that tobacco companies mix in additives that hide the harshness of the smoke.

Furthermore, almost half of people who smoke rollies do not know that roll-your-own tobacco contains additives, and around half of those who smoke tailor-made cigarettes are unaware that tobacco companies add tiny holes around cigarette filters to make the smoke feel less harsh. This matters because many smokers mistakenly believe smoke that feels less harsh is also less harmful.

The findings come on the same day that Quit launches The con that kills, a new campaign aimed to highlight how tobacco products are manipulated to make the smoke easier to inhale.  

Director of Quit, Dr Sarah White, said despite acknowledging the devastating health impacts of smoking, the tobacco industry continues to employ a spectrum of techniques to make their products more palatable and easier to smoke.

“If you inhaled the smoke from raw tobacco, you would feel the severe harshness of the hundreds of toxins created when it is burned. Tobacco companies use additives and modifications that hide these sensations. It’s a con.

“No matter how the tobacco looks, feels or tastes, you are still inhaling hundreds of toxins.  All tobacco products are doing you damage, and the only way to escape the con is to quit smoking,” said Dr White.

Dr White said it was particularly concerning that these manipulations make it easier for people to begin smoking.

“These manipulations might make it easier for young people to start smoking and to become addicted and current smokers to continue using these dangerous products.”

CEO of VicHealth, Dr Sandro Demaio, said the industry manipulation to mislead needs to be exposed.

“The idea that any tobacco product offers reduced harm is simply an illusion – but an illusion with deadly consequences for individuals and whole communities.”

“People who are still smoking need to be made aware that tobacco companies add masking agents to the tobacco in cigarettes, which hides the true harshness of the smoke, so you don’t actually feel the damage it’s doing,” said Dr Demaio.

“The tobacco industries’ primary concern remains their bottom line. By shining a light on this unfair con, we can empower people with the truth, and support them to quit smoking.”

CEO of Cancer Council Victoria, Mr Todd Harper, said it was important that tobacco control campaigns remained a public health priority, given tobacco use remains Australia’s single most preventable cause of death.

“This is a product that, when used as directed by its manufacturers, will kill two out of three lifetime users but smoking is only bearable because of the various way tobacco products are modified to make the toxic smoke less harsh and easier to inhale.

Mr Harper said that the tobacco industry con of product manipulation was especially disappointing considering the vast majority of Victorian smokers did not want to continue smoking.

“We should be doing everything we can as a community to help people who smoke quit, but instead we see products being manipulated by the industry and this makes it easier for people who smoke to continue using these dangerous products.”

The con that kills campaign, will run in Victoria from 2nd October until 12th November 2022 and features a 30-second advertisement that will be shown on television and digital platforms.

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Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
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VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.