Tobacco Regulatory Science   |  March 9, 2019

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Objective: In this study, we tested if consumers perceive filtered “little cigars” as legally-defined cigarettes and identify features they associate with cigarettes, but not little cigars and vice versa. Methods: Participants in our sample of 1030 adults (mean age 31.1 years, 34% male, 25% non-white) were randomized in a 2×2 between-subjects experiment to view images of filtered “little cigars” that varied by package labeling (cigars: yes/no) and the product displayed in front of the packaging (filtered “little cigar” or cigarette). Measures assessed participants’ perceptions that the product shown can be used as a substitute for cigarettes and features perceived to be associated with cigarettes versus little cigars. Results: Participants perceived filtered “little cigars” as substitutes for cigarettes, perceived certain features to be more like little cigars (eg, no filter/tip, wrapped in tobacco leaf) and others to be more like cigarettes (eg, filtered, could be inhaled deeply). In analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) assessing experimental condition effects, participants viewing images of cigarettes had stronger perceptions that filtered “little cigars” could be used as cigarette substitutes and had cigarette characteristics, but the effect was small. Conclusions: This study provides new evidence that filtered “little cigars” are perceived by consumers as cigarettes under current laws and identifies features distinguishing little cigars from cigarettes.

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