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A discarded cigar package survey in New York City: indicators of non-compliance with local flavoured tobacco restrictions


Introduction In 2009, New York City (NYC) restricted the sale of flavoured tobacco products. We assessed product availability as a proxy for potential non-compliance by analysing discarded cigar, cigarillo and blunt wrap packages in New York City.

Methods A discarded cigar package survey was conducted in 2016, in a stratified random sample of 94 block groups in NYC resulting in the collection of 886 discarded cigar packages. Each package was coded for brand name, flavour description (explicit and implicit) and size.

Findings Overall, 19.2% of the cigar packages were explicitly flavoured. An additional 9.4% of the packages reflected implicit flavours. Explicit flavoured cigar packages were at increased odds of being found in Staten Island (adjusted OR (AOR)=3.96, 95% CI=1.66 to 9.46), in packaging size of two or three (AOR=8.49, 95% CI=4.24 to 17.02) or four or more (AOR=4.26, 95% CI=1.95 to 9.30).

Conclusion Nearly one out of three cigar packages were flavoured products suggesting a problematic level of non-compliance and continued availability. Potential non-compliance is likely fueled by licensed wholesalers and retailers who continue to sell restricted flavoured products. Some retailers may be unaware that implicitly named cigars are typically flavoured and are, therefore, illegal. This lack of awareness of implicit flavoured cigars may be exacerbated by NYC’s lack of education or enforcement specific to implicitly flavoured tobacco products.

  • non-cigarette products
  • illegal trade
  • policy evaluation

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