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Tobacco industry use of flavours to recruit new users of little cigars and cigarillos


Objective While flavoured cigarettes were prohibited in the USA in 2009, flavoured little cigars and cigarillos (LCCs) remain on the market. We describe the evolving strategies used by tobacco companies to encourage uptake of flavoured LCCs and industry research findings on consumer perceptions of flavoured LCC products.

Methods Analysis of internal tobacco industry documents was triangulated with data from tobacco advertisement archives, national newspapers, trade press and the internet.

Results Flavoured LCC products were associated with young and inexperienced tobacco users, women and African-Americans. Internal industry studies confirmed that menthol and candy-like flavours (eg, vanilla and cherry) increased LCC appeal to starters by masking the heavy cigar taste, reducing throat irritation and making LCC smoke easier to inhale. To appeal to new users, manufacturers also reduced the size of cigars to make them more cigarette-like, introduced filters and flavoured filter tips, emphasised mildness and ease of draw in advertising, and featured actors using little cigars in television commercials. RJ Reynolds tried to capitalise on the popularity of menthol cigarettes among African–Americans and marketed a menthol little cigar to African–Americans.

Conclusions Tobacco companies engaged in a calculated effort to blur the line between LCCs to increase the appeal to cigarette smokers, and the use of flavours facilitated these efforts. Bans on flavoured cigarettes should be expanded to include flavoured LCCs, and tobacco use prevention initiatives should include LCCs.

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • Tobacco industry documents
  • Priority/special populations

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