The Atlantic

If My Friend Smokes Sometimes, Should the Cigarettes Have Filters?

An honest question
Source: Vivian Rosas / Katie Martin / The Atlantic

The standard answer from a doctor is simply never have a single cigarette. Never bring your phone to bed, never have unprotected sex, never sit for eight hours at a time. Never is the directive for a lot of things that a lot of people will do more times than never.

This is a new reader-question-and-answer column that focuses on social determinants of health, and how we assess risk and make decisions. Cigarette filters are an interesting place to start because they were created and sold as a mind game. A mind game of death. I’ll start by saying clearly that no amount of inhaled smoke in any form is advisable. But the interesting thing is that smoking filtered cigarettes could actually be worse than smoking unfiltered.

That’s the opposite of the message that a generation of young smokers grew up hearing. Particularly women, to whom in body-conscious terms. The approach was so successful that Marlboro had to compensate by creating the Marlboro Man, who was a cowboy who likes cigarettes. His primary was to convince men that the filter did not change the “man-sized taste of honest tobacco.”

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