Revised 2011
ISBN 978 1 100 17397 9
Cat. No. H128 1/10 625E PDF

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(PDF Version 195 K) Key Messages

  • The smoke from discount cigarettes contains the same chemicals, in similar concentrations, as the smoke from premium cigarettes.
  • Smoking discount cigarettes poses the same risk of harmful health effects as smoking other Canadian cigarettes.


Over the last decade, (2000 2010), price competition between cigarette manufacturers has resulted in a significant number of “discount” cigarettes being introduced to the market. These cheaper brands have become increasingly popular with Canadian smokers and have gained considerable market share from premium brands. Discount cigarettes are defined as cigarettes sold at a price below the average unit wholesale price, while premium cigarettes are defined as cigarettes sold at a price above the average unit wholesale price. Figure 1 illustrates how the sales of a discount brand increased for one manufacturer while the sales of one of its premium brands decreased over a few years.

The availability of cheaper cigarettes has raised concerns about their impact on public health. Evidence has shown that “individuals have switched to lower priced discount brands rather than quitting smoking or decreasing the number of cigarettes smoked.”Footnote 1

Figure 1 Total unit wholesale sales in Canada of a discount and a premium brand from the same manufacturer, 2000 2008Footnote 2

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals that are formed when tobacco burns. At least 70 of these are known to be cancer causing.

To assess the potential health impacts of discount cigarettes, Health Canada characterized and compared selected discount and premium brands.


Physical characteristics and tobacco composition are shown in Table 1 for one discount and premium brand. The choice of brand was based on declared tar value. No statistically significant difference in length, diameter, tobacco weight, ventilation, tobacco pH, smoke PH and nicotine content per cigarette was observed between premium and discount cigarettes. In addition, both types contain the same additives.

Table 1 Comparison of physical characteristics and tobacco compositionFootnote 2 of a discount and a premium cigarette brand from the same manufacturer Premium A Discount A

Hepburn (female celebrity smoking list)

Coupons for cigarettes online
&bull “And she smoked Gold Flake Cigarettes that’s an English brand in a long filter cigarette holder.”, third page, Photoplay magazine, ’54 &bull “Audrey said soberly as she lit a cigarette. She smokes only moderately.”, see page 5, Photoplay magazine, ’57 &bull “‘I love making movies,” she says in that wonderfully elegant voice, as she leans forward so her press agent can light her cigarette “, New York Times, Jun. 4, ’80 &bull Kent cigarettes became her brand of choice later in life, also smoked IRL with a holder, People Magazine, ’80 &bull chain smoker, “The Book of People” by Christoper P. Andersen, ’81 &bull “‘I was just sort of launched on this career,’ she says, lighting a cigarette and exhaling a thin stream of smoke”, Washington Post, Aug. 5, ’85 &bull “In the throng at the after Oscars party Audrey Hepburn (wearing extraordinary crystal earrings and lighting her own cigarette a la Holly Golightly)”, Los Angeles Times, Apr. 13, ’88 &bull “I met her privately in her suite at Claridge’s. It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, but she seized a large Scotch thankfully. ‘I’m not a lush’, she explained in that distinctive, faintly foreign accent, a legacy of her Dutch upbringing, ‘but I’ve been up since four and I need a pick up’. She chain smoked too, clearly ragged with exhaustion”, Sunday Mail (UK), Jul. 3, ’88 &bull “‘I read these things and I marvel,’ she says, lighting a cigarette … reaching for another cigarette”, Raleigh News & Observer, Mar. 3, ’91 &bull “her white brassiere strap is showing as she holds her cigarette to the side”, Houston Chronicle, Oct. 27, ’91 &bull People Magazine, c. Jan./Feb. ’93 &bull “the generosity of the hospital patients when doing voluntary work at Deaconess Hospital, Arnhem, in 1945 also got Audrey started on a lifelong addiction to smoking later, more health conscious days, her chain smoking would often shock those who expected Audrey Hepburn to be perfect. ‘The only bad thing I can say about Audrey the only thing is that she smoked,’ designer friend Jeffrey Banks underlying cause of Audrey’s frail health was the asthma and anemia that had plagued her since the war, combined with her addiction to cigarettes. As long as she continued to puff a pack or more of her favorite English cut Gold Flakes per day, the wheezing and the coughing weren’t going to she wanted to stop smoking , she couldn’t. But she was trying to restrict herself to six cigarettes per day, using a filtered holder that her mother sent her from Dunhill in London 1954 secular pleasure that Audrey didn’t give up was smoking cigarettes, which she did even in her nun’s habit while relaxing between takes for The Nun’s Story, 1958 fell into what she later described as a ‘black decline,’ turning into a nervous wreck who smoked three packs of cigarettes a day 1960 “, “Audrey Hepburn A Biography” by Warren G. Harris, ’94 &bull “Her one vice, smoking, came from the cigarettes she saw American soldiers smoking when her homeland was liberated. She became addicted to life on them”, “Audrey Hepburn A Biography” by Warren Harris, ’94 &bull “The day typically wound down with Hepburn ambling around the house with a Kent cigarette and her nightly ‘two fingers’ of J&B Scotch”, People Magazine, Oct. 31, ’94 &bull shown during cigarette break in retrospective, Life Magazine, c. late ’94 &bull “She chain smoked on the set of My Fair Lady “, North Shore News, Aug. 2, ’99 &bull “Audrey smoked English Gold Flakes in a long, filtered holder … ‘My mother taught me to stand straight, sit erect and to smoke only six cigarettes a day … she was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and was fifteen pounds underweight … whenever she smoked a cigarette, she stubbed it out in a tiny white ashtray, then put the butt into a wastebasket beside her bed … Audrey went into a deep depression. Her weight dropped to ninety eight pounds and she was smoking three packs a day … When she needs a match for a cigarette, the look on her face is like a deer on a rifle range … She said, ‘I have some sins’, and one them was smoking. She was smoking cigarettes and answering letters in her white dressing gown with her hair loose … she was so nervous … pacing back and forth, smoking, her hands ice cold”, “Audrey Hepburn” by Barry Paris, ’01, pgs. 93, 105, 110, 163, 167, 288, 323, 361 &bull “The postage stamp was taken out of circulation because of the cigarette. Did Audrey Hepburn smoke? She did. And not just as Holly Golightly in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) . Even in her private life she couldn’t leave cigarettes alone in more than 40 years. So why was a graphic designer not allowed to immortalise the actress on a postage stamp in the way that she is nevertheless remembered by many? Namely as Holly Golightly, coquettishly poking out her particularly long cigarette holder from beneath her broad brimmed hat” , Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Oct. 6, ’05 &bull “A heavy smoker who liked a glass of bourbon, she had an earthy sense of humour and a robust sexual appetite… on May 4, 1945 ‘Freedom has a special smell to me the smell of British petrol and British cigarettes. When I ran out to welcome the soldiers, I inhaled their petrol fumes as if it were a priceless perfume and I demanded a cigarette, even though it made me choke’… she never again lost her appetite for tobacco… in summer 1954 Biting her fingernails to the quick, smoking constantly”, from “Enchantment The Life of Audrey Hepburn” by Donald Spoto, Daily Mail (UK), May 13, ’06 &bull ” (abridged extract from Enchantment The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto) As she approached her 40th more than ever”, Daily Mail (UK), May 15, ’06 &bull “A heavy smoker”, Bay Area Reporter, Nov. 16, ’06 &bull “a lifelong smoker”, The Independent (UK), Dec. 9, ’06 &bull “By age 15 she had developed ‘a life long addiction to cigarettes.’ ‘She still smoked 1991 , though a brand a cut above her favourite Gold Flakes which had long ago been taken off the market because of their high tar content.'”, biography, when? &bull “Audrey Hepburn” by Barry Paris &bull “Audrey Hepburn A Celebration” by Sheridan Morley &bull biography “Audrey Hepburn An Intimate Portrait”, by Diana Maychick, when? &bull “Audrey is now sick from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day 1954 “, “becomes deeply depressed, loses weight and smokes heavily 1959 “, website biography, when? &bull “My mother taught me to stand straight, sit erect, use discipline with wine and sweets and to smoke only six cigarettes a day”, “How to Be Lovely The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life” by Melissa Hellstern, when? &bull “In late 1954, after honeymooning in Italy, Audrey was thrilled to learn that she was pregnant! But sadly, she miscarries shortly before she was to co star with Mel in the great epic film, ‘War and Peace.’ This was the first of several miscarriages Audrey suffered. Audrey became very depressed and smoked heavily after most of the ordeals”, website bio, when? &bull “Just think of the iconic image of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) as Holly Golightly posing elegantly with her long cigarette holder, upswept chignon and little black dress. What’s not so elegant of course is the way Audrey Hepburn succumbed to the smoking habit herself. Ignoring her mother’s ‘beauty tip’ to ‘keep to six cigarettes a day only’, Hepburn managed two or three packs at her worst times even smoking in her nun’s habit on the set of ‘The Nun’s Story’ and chain smoking her way through ‘My Fair Lady'”, where?, when?