Cigarette filters were initially introduced by the tobacco industry in the 1960s to make cigarettes “safer”. But we now know they provide no safety, no health benefits, and are a major cause of environmental littering.
It was initially professed that filters reduced tar and other toxicants, and prevented tobacco flakes from entering the lungs. It was soon discoveredthis wasn’t the case, and cigarettes were just as dangerous with filters. But it was years before the public discovered this, and even today most smokers believe cigarettes with filters are safer, probably because the taste is milder.
The majority of Australian cigarettes are further engineered to have vented filters (holes in them), supposedly to introduce fresh air into each puff and make smoking easier on the throat. These were deceptively named “light” and “mild” until the ACCC prohibited the practice, because it implied a less harmful or “lower-tar” cigarette.
The ACCC forced the tobacco companies to change the name of cigarettes, but not the content or mechanism. Some 90% of cigarettes in Australia now have vented filters. They’re easy to identify by unravelling the paper filter wrapping and holding it to the light.
What’s the effect of filters?
Larger modern filters, with tiny holes, introduce more air into each puff, making it feel “easier” on the throat. Smokers compensate, in order to extract a constant nicotine dose, by taking deeper puffs, and more of them.