Intended for healthcare professionals

Minerva Minerva


BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 24 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1740

Low tar cigarettes may entice health conscious smokers (if that's not an oxymoron), but it is doubtful whether they offer any health benefits over their regular counterparts. A review in the Lancet(2000;355:2159-61) points out that the tests that measure tar and nicotine are extremely sensitive to variations from the standard method: a machine taking a 2 second drag every 60 seconds to capture 35 ml of smoke. Cigarettes found to be low yield using this test can yield seven times more nicotine when smoked with 50 ml puffs every 30 seconds.

Actually supplying condoms is a more effective way of ensuring they are used than is providing promotional information, according to the results of an randomised trial in Nicaragua. Housing shortages there mean that both commercial and non-commercial sex often takes place in low cost “moteles,” which are supposed to provide free condoms, though the law is honoured more in the breach than the observance (Lancet 2000;355:2101-5). The trial design certainly sought to avoid the vagaries of self reported behaviour: one key variable was the result of the search for the used condom, by an investigator disguised as a cleaner.(See News Extra at

Material gifts also have a part to play …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription