A study of 62 youngsters has revealed that low tar, low nicotine cigarettes impair blood flow through the heart as severely as regular cigarettes.
All the participants in the study, published ahead of print in the journal Heart, were in their mid-twenties.
Twenty of them had smoked low tar, low nicotine cigarettes for at least three years, while 20 other participants had smoked regular cigarettes for the same period. The rest did not smoke.
Each participant was assessed for cardiovascular fitness. For smokers, the tests were conducted two days before and 30 minutes after smoking two of their usual cigarettes within the space of 15 minutes.
The researchers focused on coronary flow velocity reserve (CFVR), a measure of how readily coronary arteries can dilate in response to increased blood flow, throughout the study.
It was found that all smokers suffered similar impairment of health irrespective of their choices of cigarettes. The blood pressure and heart rate in both groups of smokers had increased after smoking.
Both groups of smokers showed that CFVR, which was already lower in smokers than their non-smoking counterparts, decreased further after fagging, again irrespective of the cigarette type.
While CFVR fell from 2.68 to 2.05 in the low tar smokers and from 2.65 to 2.18 in the regular tar smokers, it was 3.11 in the non-smokers.
The study authors claim that their results rebut the belief that low tar, low nicotine cigarettes reduce some of the hazardous effects of smoking.