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Cigarette smokers’ classification of tobacco products
  1. M Casseus1,
  2. J Garmon2,
  3. M Hrywna3,
  4. C D Delnevo3
  1. 1Department of Health Education and Behavioral Science, Rutgers School of Public Health, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, USA
  3. 3Center for Tobacco Studies, Rutgers School of Public Health, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  1. Correspondence to M Casseus, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, Rutgers School of Public Health, 112 Paterson Street, Rm 405, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA; myriam.casseus{at}


Introduction Cigarette consumption has declined in the USA. However, cigar consumption has increased. This may be due in part to some cigarette smokers switching to filtered cigars as a less expensive substitute for cigarettes. Additionally, some cigarette smokers may perceive and consume little filtered cigars as cigarettes. The purpose of this study was to determine how cigarette smokers classify tobacco products when presented with photographs of those products.

Methods An online survey was conducted with a sample of 344 self-identified cigarette smokers. Respondents were presented with pictures of various types of tobacco products, both with and without packaging, and then asked to categorise them as either a cigarette, little cigar, cigarillo, cigar or machine-injected roll-your-own cigarette (RYO). Respondents were also asked about their tobacco use and purchasing behaviour.

Results Overall, respondents had difficulty distinguishing between cigarettes, little cigars, cigarillos and RYO. When presented with images of the products without packaging, 93% of respondents identified RYO as a cigarette, while 42% identified a little cigar as a cigarette. Additionally, respondents stated that they would consider purchasing little cigars as substitutes for cigarettes because of the price advantage.

Conclusions The results of this survey suggest that when presented with photographs of tobacco products, large proportions of current smokers were unable to differentiate between cigarettes, little cigars, cigarillos, RYO and cigars. Findings have implications for existing public health efforts targeting cigarette smokers, and underscore the need to review current definitions of tobacco products and federal excise taxes on such products.

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Packaging and Labelling
  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • Public policy
  • Taxation

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  • Contributors JG designed the study and collected data. MC conducted the data analysis. MC drafted and revised the manuscript. CDD reviewed the data analysis. MH and CDD reviewed drafts and materially contributed to the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The Institutional Review Board of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutgers University).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.