African-American and Hispanic cigarette smokers may be more likely than white smokers to also smoke little cigars and cigarillos, increasing the risk of addiction and disease among those groups, according to a recent tobacco use study by Georgia State University School of Public Health.
[Photo: Dr. Kymberle Landrum Sterling]
Like cigarettes, little cigars and cigarillos (also referred to as LCCs) are “associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease,” the study notes. “The concomitant use of LCCs and cigarettes is common among young adults and may further increase the risk for chronic diseases, secondhand exposure, and addiction.”
The health risks associated with LCC use may depend upon how they are used. Unlike cigarettes, LCCs may be smoked as purchased (with its tobacco in the casing) or as a blunt-—blunts are LCCs that have been modified by consumers who remove all or some of the tobacco from within the casing and replace it with marijuana.
Understanding these unique LCC behaviors among certain segments of the U.S. population is important, the researchers noted, because interventions for different groups of smokers may help prevent or reduce the risk of exposure to toxins in tobacco and encourage quitting.
To determine the prevalence of LCC use among cigarette smokers, researchers conducted an online survey in 2015 of more than a thousand young adult cigarette smokers in the U.S. The survey showed that 15 percent of the young adult smokers also smoked LCCs. The results also indicated that 11 percent smoked blunts, and another 10.5 percent smoked LCCs and blunts in addition to cigarettes.
Among white smokers, 13.6 percent reported using one or more forms of LCCs. By contrast, more than 48 percent of black smokers in the study reported also using some form of LCCs, and roughly half of Hispanic smokers reported using them.
The results are published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research in the article “Little Cigars and Cigarillos Use Among Young Adult Cigarette Smokers in the United States: Understanding Risk of Concomitant Use Subtypes.” The study’s lead author is Dr. Kymberle Landrum Sterling, associate professor of health promotion and behavior at Georgia State.
“To our knowledge, this study is the first to document the prevalence of these unique LCC smoking behaviors among a national probability sample with equivalent numbers of blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and white smokers,” the researchers said.
The study’s authors also include Dr. Craig S. Fryer with the University of Maryland and Drs. Ian Pagano and Pebbles Fagan with the University of Hawaii at Manoa.