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WASHINGTON -- Nearly 90 percent of cigarettes sold in America are billed as "light" or "low-tar." But the notion of healthier, or less risky, cigarettes is an illusion, according to a U.S. government study.A report released yesterday by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, an arm of the U.S. government's National Institute of Health, shows that while cigarettes have changed somewhat over the past half-century, the dangers remain profound."Epidemiological and other scientific evidence, including patterns of mortality from smoking-caused diseases, does not indicate a benefit to public health from changes in cigarette design and manufacturing over the last 50 years," the report stated.Eighty-seven percent of cigarettes sold in U.S. are low-tar brands, Reuters said, citing statistics from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But the widespread adoption of light cigarettes, which produce less tar in machine-measured government tests, has not prevented a sustained increase in lung cancer among long-time smokers."Many smokers switch to lower-yield cigarettes out of concern for their health, believing these cigarettes to be less risky or to be a step toward quitting," the report said. "Advertising and marketing of lower-yield cigarettes may promote initiation and impede cessation, more important determinants of smoking-related diseases."