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Tobacco industry strategies for flavour capsule cigarettes: analysis of patents and internal industry documents


Background The global market for flavour capsule variants (FCVs), cigarettes with a crushable flavour capsule, has grown exponentially. To inform further regulatory efforts, it is important to understand tobacco industry strategies for FCVs.

Methods Analysis of data from 65 patents and 179 internal tobacco industry documents, retrieved via snowball searches in Patsnap and the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library, describing tobacco industry developments related to FCVs. We used an inductive coding method to identify themes relating to FCV features or developments.

Results Tobacco companies were developing FCVs since the 1960s, with little market success until the 2000s following the launch of Camel Crush, a brand which targeted millennials (in their teens or early 20s at the time). Tobacco companies have patented, but not yet marketed, FCVs with microcapsule surface coatings, adjustable or heat-triggered flavour release systems, airflow manipulation features, transparent filters to visualise flavour release, and various flavours and additives for capsules including nicotine/tobacco extracts for an on-demand nicotine hit. Tobacco companies developed FCVs purported to be reduced harm, although their own tests showed that FCVs have higher toxicant concentrations. They have also developed loose flavour capsule units designed to fit into cigarettes, packs, or recessed filters to enable users to customise cigarettes and circumvent tobacco flavour bans.

Conclusions To prevent tobacco companies from targeting young people and exploiting regulatory loopholes, regulations on tobacco products should ban flavours and consider the broad variety of FCV designs, additives and loose products designed to impart flavour into tobacco products.

  • advertising and promotion
  • prevention
  • tobacco industry
  • surveillance and monitoring
  • tobacco industry documents

Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. The tobacco industry documents are publicly available at Patents are publicly available online, for example, in databases such as Patsnap or Google Patents.

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