Crafty marketing can still trick consumers into thinking that one type of cigarette is safer than another - even though all brands are equally harmful.
Tobacco companies are already banned from using "mild" and "light" on their cigarette packs because these descriptive words tend to minimize the potential health risks of smoking in the minds of many consumers.
But a new study reveals that other words or packaging design features can be just as deceptive.
For the study, the researchers at the University of Waterloo recruited 603 adults - including both smokers and non-smokers.
The volunteers were asked their impressions of fictitious cigarette packets incorporating words and design elements currently used by tobacco companies.
(To avoid consumers being influenced by existing brand loyalties or biases, real packs of cigarettes were not used.)
The replicas also contained all the normal Health Canada warnings about smoking causing a host of illnesses.
"Our study found that commonly used words not covered by the ban, as well as other packaging design elements such as colour, the use of numbers and reference to filters, were just as misleading [as light or mild] which means there's a loophole that needs to be closed," said the lead researcher, David Hammond, a professor of health studies.
For instance, using the word "smooth" or putting low numbers and light colours on the package makes many consumers think the cigarettes contain reduced amounts of tar and carcinogens and wrongly assume they pose less than the usual level of health risk.
Some cigarette filters are equipped with tiny air holes that can indeed give the impression of a smoother puff.
But smokers tend to drag more deeply on these butts, and end up inhaling just as many harmful substances as with other cigarettes.
"These tactics are giving consumers a false sense of reassurance that simply does not exist," Dr. Hammond said in a statement released with the study which was published in the Journal of Public Health.
"The rates of lung cancer are the same for all brands of cigarettes," he added in an interview.
"That's very important and most smokers don't realize it."
"I would argue that one way of reducing this problem is to standardize packaging," he said.
That would mean removing extra words, colours and imagery so all packs look identical, except for the brand name.