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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Twitter @kevinschroth, @crisdelnevo
Contributors CDD and AAS obtained funding. MJ, OAW and CDD conceptualised the study. MJ and CDD analysed the data, and all authors contributed to interpretation of the results. MJ and OAW drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to critical review and editing of the manuscript and approved the final version of the manuscript. CDD had access to all of the data and takes responsibility for the overall conduct of the study.
Funding This research was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products under U54CA229973. MJ was additionally supported by funding from NCI (K01CA242591) and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (P30CA072720-5931).
Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding organisations.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.