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‘I’m killing myself, but I’m saving the planet’: rolling tobacco smokers’ perceptions of rolling papers
  1. Crawford Moodie,
  2. Rachel O’Donnell
  1. Institute for Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Crawford Moodie, Institute for Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK; c.s.moodie{at}


Introduction Despite the global growth of rolling tobacco, we are unaware of any research that has explored smokers’ perceptions of the types of rolling papers available, or plain rolling papers, which are now required in Canada and Israel.

Methods Eight focus groups were conducted with rolling tobacco smokers (n=50) in Greater Glasgow (Scotland) between February and March 2020. Participants were shown a number of packs of promotional rolling papers (natural, transparent, prerolled cones, flavoured) and plain rolling papers.

Results Rolling papers were often viewed as functional, a necessity for making roll-ups. The appeal of papers was based on the packaging, with a booklet-style pack of natural papers viewed very positively, as well as novelty, usability and taste/smell. Participants often associated papers with particular users, with prerolled cones and some flavoured papers thought to be used by cannabis smokers or younger people and those just starting to smoke. In terms of harm perceptions, natural papers were viewed as a healthier choice than standard papers and more environmentally friendly, whereas transparent papers raised concerns about safety to both the user and the environment. Participants were generally ambivalent towards plain papers, which they did not feel would alter their purchasing or smoking behaviour, although some felt they may be less appealing to youth as the branding would be diminished.

Conclusions The panoply of rolling papers available offers consumers considerable choice. As some promotional papers can increase appeal or create misperceptions of harm then standardising papers would help to counter this.

  • hand-rolled/RYO tobacco
  • packaging and labelling
  • public policy

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  • Contributors CM designed the study. CM and ROD drafted the article and approved the final version.

  • Funding This work was supported by a grant from Cancer Research UK (A23887).

  • Competing interests None declared.

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