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Influence of cigarillo packaging characteristics on young adults’ perceptions and intentions: findings from three online experiments


Objectives Packaging is an important component of tobacco marketing that influences product perceptions and use intentions. However, little research exists on cigar packaging. We leveraged variability in existing Swisher Sweets cigarillo packaging to extend the evidence base.

Methods Between 2017 and 2019, we conducted three online experiments with 774 young adult past-year cigar smokers recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk. After viewing Swisher package images that differed by flavour descriptor and/or colour, participants rated them on perceptions and purchase intentions. In study 1, participants viewed one of four cigarillos (‘Wild Rush Encore’, ‘Wild Rush Limited’, ‘Twisted Berry’ and ‘Strawberry’). In study 2, participants viewed two different watermelon rum-flavoured cigarillos (‘Boozy Watermelon’ and ‘Island Madness’). In study 3, participants viewed two of three ‘Wild Rush’ cigarillo versions (‘Encore’ with or without an explicit flavour descriptor or ‘Limited’).

Results In study 1, more participants perceived ‘Twisted Berry’ and ‘Wild Rush Limited’ as tasting good and less harsh tasting compared with ‘Wild Rush Encore’. In study 2, compared with ‘Island Madness’, more participants perceived ‘Boozy Watermelon’ as tasting good, less harsh tasting and used by younger users but less by masculine users; female participants were more likely to purchase ‘Boozy Watermelon’. In study 3, participants perceived ‘Wild Rush Encore’ with the explicit flavour descriptor as tasting better than packages without and being used by younger users but less by masculine users.

Conclusions Variations in cigarillo packaging, even among cigarillos with the same flavour, may have differential consumer appeal, suggesting packaging features should be considered in cigar product regulation.

  • packaging and labelling
  • non-cigarette tobacco products
  • priority/special populations

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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