Silk Cut is brand of low tar cigarette produced by the Gallaher Group. The packaging is characterised by a distinctive stark white packet with the brand name in a purple square. Tobacco only makes up 75% of the filling; the rest is Cytrel.
The brand increased in popularity around the world throughout the 1970s and 1980s as the dangers of cigarette smoking became well known and consumers switched to a lower tar brand. At 5 mg tar, Silk Cut contained up to half the tar content of stronger brands such as Benson and Hedges or Marlboro and the brand seemed more attractive to smokers, especially women.
In the 1990s Silk Cut was the best selling brand in the UK. Now sales have declined behind cheaper budget brands as tax on tobacco has increased. In an attempt to counteract this, the manufacturers responded in the new millennium by introducing bevelled corners to redesigned regular gauge packaging, and marketing the first 'slim' cigarette in the UK, Silk Cut Slims. Silk Cut is also available in a lower tar version and an ultra low tar version with a tar content of only 0.1 mg. When terms such as 'light' and 'low tar' were made illegal to use in the UK for use of tobacco promotion (for fear that it deluded smokers into thinking such products were safer), some commentators predicted that Silk Cut's name and good brand-recognition as a low-tar product would favourably affect sales of the brand to health conscious consumers.
It is a misconception that the tobacco in Silk Cuts contains less nicotine or tar than other cigarette tobacco. The lower nicotine levels are caused by the design of the filter, which has many more holes than regular strength cigarette filters, to mix the smoke with air.