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When a ban really is not a ban: internet loopholes and Djarum flavoured cigarettes in the USA
  1. Jon-Patrick Allem1,
  2. John W Ayers2,
  3. Benjamin M Althouse3,
  4. Rebecca Williams4,5
  1. 1Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA
  3. 3The Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
  4. 4Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Centre, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  5. 5Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jon-Patrick Allem, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 2001 N. Soto Street, 3rd Floor Mail, Los Angeles, CA 90032, USA; allem{at}

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Bans on flavoured cigarettes have been enacted in the USA,1 the EU2 and elsewhere. However, little is known about industry and consumer counter reactions. Djarum, which controls 97% of flavoured cigarette sales in the USA, immediately released ‘cigars’ resembling their banned counterparts and continued to manufacturer flavoured cigarettes.3 This study describes: (A) online consumer interest4 in, and (B) promotion and availability of Djarum cigarettes, and their cigar replacements, before and after the USA banned flavoured cigarettes in 2009.


Google searches originating in the USA including ‘Djarum’ in combination with ‘cigarette/s’ versus ‘Djarum’ in combination with ‘cigar/s’ (eg, ‘Djarum cigarettes’ would be pooled in the cigarette trend) were monitored (, then regressed on time (eg, 2008–2014).

The top 50 Google search results between 29 August 2013 and 28 November 2014 for ‘Djarum cigars’ and ‘Djarum cigarettes’ were classified as websites that described Djarum cigarettes or cigars favourably (promotion), and as websites that sold either product (retailing). Two investigators classified the results (κ=0.88).


Djarum cigarette searches …

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  • Contributors JPA, JWA, BMA, and RW conceived of the study. JPA and JWA drafted the manuscript. JPA, JWA and BMA analysed the data. JPA, JWA, BMA and RW interpreted the data, revised the manuscript for important intellectual content, and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute grant number 5R01CA169189-02 and grant number T32CA009492.

  • Competing interests JWA and BMA share an equity stake in a consultancy, Directing Medicine LLC, that helps other investigators implement some of the ideas embodied in this work. Their organisation serves as technical advisors to the larger funded research project.

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

  • Data sharing statement Data used in this study are publicly available from Google Trends ( Data and coding for websites can be received from the corresponding author.