African-American cigarette smokers and smokers with lower educational attainment are more likely to think of flavored little cigars as less harmful and easier to quit, according to a study led by a tobacco researcher with the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
[Photo: Dr. Kymberle Sterling]
The study also found that daily smokers of menthol cigarettes were more likely to be uncertain about the harmfulness and addictiveness of flavored little cigars and cigarillos.
“There should be targeted efforts for cigarette smokers who are Black/African-American, of low socioeconomic status, and menthol users to address misperceptions and uncertainty about flavored [little cigar and cigarillo] tobacco and [little cigar and cigarillo] blunts,” the study stated.
To examine their use of and perceptions about flavored tobacco products, researchers administered an online survey from May to June 2015 to more than 1,000 American adult smokers. Nearly 40 percent of African-American smokers reported perceiving flavored little cigars as less risky than cigarettes, while 20.5 percent of white smokers felt the same. Forty-two percent of smokers with a high school education reported perceiving less risk with flavored cigars, while 29 percent of smokers who completed some college and 10 percent of smokers with bachelor’s degrees reported the same.
The results of the study are published in Tobacco Regulatory Science in the article “Flavored Cigar Misperceptions and Uncertainty: Identifying At-risk Smokers.” The study’s lead author is Dr. Kymberle Sterling, associate professor of health promotion and behavior at Georgia State University.
Researchers noted that little cigars on the market come in a variety of flavors — fruit, candy and alcohol among them — that are banned in cigarettes.
“These characterizing flavors coupled with the affordable cost, targeted product advertising, and widespread availability, make the products attractive to some adults, including cigarette smokers,” they said.
The study’s authors also include Dr. Craig S. Fryer with the University of Maryland College Park, Dr. Ian Pagano with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Dr. Pebbles Fagan with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.