Special Report

8 Cigarette Brands to Avoid

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Look, let’s be honest—we should all be avoiding every brand of cigarette out there. Cigarettes are, of course, unhealthy (even the ones that don’t show up on this list). Still, if your heart is set on having one, there are some ways you can ensure you get a “better” cigarette. First, you want a cigarette that people are generally known to enjoy. This is, of course, a subjective experience, but there are broad trends that people stick to. Additionally, there is the question of health. If possible, getting a cigarette with less tar is better. Around 60% of the tar in a cigarette ends up in your lungs, so if you’re going to smoke, it’s probably better to minimize tar buildup.

To determine our list today, 24/7 Wall Street used data from the Government Laboratory of Hong Kong to determine the cigarette brands with the highest tar levels per cigarette. Additionally, using some editorial discretion and reviews from sources like Reddit and online forums, we tried to gauge consumer sentiment around which brands are least loved. It’s important to note that there are regional differences in these brands and the products they offer. Let’s get started.

Pall Mall

Originating in Britain, Pall Mall is one of the most well-known tobacco brands today.

Pall Mall is a cigarette brand owned by British American Tobacco and based in the UK. The brand has been around for 125 years and is reported to have reached the height of its popularity in the 1960s. So, why is Pall Mall one of the worst brands to avoid? First, Pall Mall is usually regarded as a “cheap” cigarette or a budget brand. It’s not good to inhale anything into your lungs, but if you’re going to do it, many people claim that it should at least be the good stuff.

For reference, there is an entire Reddit thread titled “Why is Pall Mall hated?” with a lot of people discussing why they particularly don’t love the brand.

On top of that, they show up five times on the list of cigarettes with the highest tar content, with the Pall Mall Red FTKS 20s having 12 mg of tar per single cigarette.


Until Marlboro took over, Winston was the best-selling cigarette brand in the world

Winston has two parent companies, ITG Brands within the United States and Japan Tobacco for everywhere else in the world. They were initially introduced around 70 years ago in the United States and were owned by R.J. Reynolds before being sold off. For a while, they were the top-selling cigarette in the entire world until 1972, when Marlboro took over.

It is often known in the United States to be an inferior brand, often being cited as having a boring and unoriginal taste. On top of that, the Winston More Reds 20s ranked the highest on the list in terms of nicotine content (1 mg per cigarette) and tar (13 mg per cigarette), meaning they are overall more addictive while also depositing the most tar in a smoker’s lungs. Rough combo, and something that you should probably avoid, if possible (especially since lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in America).


Alria Marlboro
The Marlboro brand is the best-selling cigarette brand in the world and has been for over 50 years.

Marlboro is an American brand that is owned by Phillip Morris, which is itself owned by Altria. Outside of the United States, they are owned by Imperial Tobacco Canada. Few brands have had an impact on culture like Marlboro, and marketing pushes from the brand have largely been extremely successful over the last 100 years. It became the world’s top-selling cigarette in 1972.

That being said, the brand is known for its additives, chemicals, and other harmful substances within the cigarettes, many of which make them more addictive. There are plenty of products under the Marlboro umbrella, and the Marlboro Reds FTKS 20s had the most nicotine (.0 mg per cigarette) and tar (13 mg per cigarette). In fact, the entire list of the most tar-ridded cigarettes is dominated by Marlboro, with over 10 entries, most of which have over 8 mg of tar per cigarette.

It’s hard to avoid Marlboro’s reach in the space, and many who smoke them even claim to understand that the product likely has additives. Still, with so much range in the brand’s products, there are high-quality options that some people recommend, including Southern Cut and 27s.


Viceroy isn’t as common in the United States after it was merged with B&W and played down as a brand.

Viceroy is an American cigarette brand that is owned by British American Tobacco, although they are produced by Philip Morris International. With a tagline like, “As Your Dentist, I Would Recommend Viceroys,” can you get any better? Nowadays, they are often associated with lower-quality products and as a budget brand, both things that hurt their appeal.

They also show up on the list in third place, with .9 mg of nicotine and 13 mg of tar per cigarette.


The main issue that people have with L&M is the taste of some of their products.

L&M is another American brand that is owned and manufactured through Altria and Phillip Morris International. The initials stand for Ligget & Meyers, and the brand was initially introduced 140 years ago.

The main issue with L&M is customer appeal. They generally catch a lot of flack online, and people often claim they don’t like the taste. For example, many sources online talked about the L&M Blues and their total lack of flavor or occasional plasticky aftertaste.


Famous for the camel branding and Crush packs, Camel offers one of the most expensive products, unfiltered Camels (sometimes called Camel Straights).

Camel is another brand that even non-smokers recognize due to its great branding and marketing through the years. It is owned by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company within the United States and Japan Tobacco everywhere else.

Camel actually has a lot of love in the community, and people generally enjoy the taste, particularly the Reds. They do get a little hate for Camel Crush, the famous product with the menthol bead in the filters that releases when you crush it. The novelty of Crush’s contributes to it being one of the most popular brands for teenagers.

Additionally, Camel is known to have additives in various products that aren’t associated with “purity” or ingredients. On top of that, Camel Straights are some of the most expensive cigarettes you can get due to their combination of Turkish and American tobacco strains.


Many discount brands don’t have a lot of consumer love, with Pyramid being a prime example.

Pyramid is a brand owned by Ligget Group (related the L&M) that is known for its discount costs. They are even advertised online by Ligget Group as “one of the country’s leading discount brands, it’s no surprise that Pyramid is the cigarette for the bargain hunter.” Again, discount brands, particularly when talking about cigarettes, aren’t regarded well most of the time.

USA Gold

USA Gold is another of the more well-known discount brands offered in the United States. Like other discount brands, people love to hate on them.

USA Gold is a cigarette brand owned by Commonwealth Brands, which is owned by ITG, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco. ITG also owns brands like Winston, Kool, Salem, and Maverick, with USA Gold being a discount placement in the lineup.

For many of the same reasons Pyramid isn’t loved, USA Gold also struggles. They are marketed as a discount brand, and as a result, some consumers claim they aren’t getting a great product. Still, some people like their Gold Menthols as a great value option.

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