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National and state patterns of concept-flavoured cigar sales, USA, 2012–2016
  1. Doris G Gammon1,
  2. Todd Rogers1,
  3. Ellen M Coats1,
  4. James M Nonnemaker1,
  5. Kristy L Marynak2,
  6. Nicole M Kuiper2,
  7. Brian A King2
  1. 1 Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2 Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Doris G Gammon, Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research, Research Triangle Institute International, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA; dgammon{at}


Introduction Cigar sales have increased in the USA in recent years. A growing proportion of cigar sales are of flavoured varieties, many bearing ambiguous or ‘concept’ flavour descriptions (eg, Jazz). This study assessed US cigar sales by flavour category (ie, concept flavoured, characterising flavoured and tobacco), at national, regional and state levels.

Methods Sales of cigarillos, large cigars and little cigars from chain, franchise and convenience stores, mass merchandisers, supermarkets, drug, dollar and club stores, and military commissaries during 2012–2016 were acquired from the Nielsen Company. US national-level and state-level sales, including District of Columbia, were analysed by flavour category. Flavour descriptors were classified as ‘tobacco', ‘characterising’ or ‘concept', based on Universal Product Code (UPC)-linked characteristics and brand website and consumer review descriptions.

Results Cigar sales increased by 29% during 2012–2016, driven by a 78% increase in cigarillo sales. The proportion of concept-flavoured sales increased from 9% to 15%, while the proportion of sales decreased for tobacco (50% to 49%) and characterising flavours (eg, cherry) (41% to 36%). Cigarillos had the greatest increase in unique concept flavour descriptions (17 to 46 unique UPCs), with most sales occurring among Sweet, Jazz and Green Sweets concept flavours. By US region, total and concept-flavoured cigarillo sales were highest in the South.

Conclusions Flavoured cigars are increasingly labelled with concept flavours, including in areas with flavoured tobacco sales restrictions. Cigarillos are driving recent increases in US cigar and concept-flavoured cigar sales. It is important to consider concept flavours when addressing flavoured tobacco product sales and use.

  • srveillance and monitoring
  • public policy
  • packaging and labelling
  • non-cigarette tobacco products

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  • Funding Support was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in part, through contracts 200-2014-F-6122, 200-2016-F-92371 and 200-2013-M-53964B, and by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the National Cancer Institute’s State & Community Tobacco Control Initiative to RTI International (U01-CA154281). The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of CDC or NIH.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

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