February 2018 News and Research Roundup

Cigarettes, Disparities, Displays/Display Ban, E-Cigarettes, Flavors (including Menthol), Little cigars/Cigarillos, Minimum pack size, Minimum price, Non-Tax Price Increases, Price Promotions, Product Packaging, Tobacco21, Youth

Welcome to CounterTobacco.org’s “News and Research Roundup!” Each month we post a summary of the latest research, reports, and news stories on counteracting tobacco product sales and marketing at the point of sale (POS). Keeping up with what’s happening in the POS movement all across the country can help you choose policies and strategies that work best for your community. New research can help provide support for your work and evidence for the importance of the “War in the Store.” Have a story you don’t want us to miss? E-mail it to us!

New Research 

Price Policies

  • Promising Strategies to Remove Inexpensive Sweet Tobacco Products from Retail Stores, Public Health Reports
    •                cheap flavored little cigars

      This article reviews Boston, MA’s 2012 cigar packaging regulation, which required cigars to be sold in packs of at least four, except in adult-only stores where single cigars are priced at $2.50 or more. The language was later updated to require that packs of two be sold for at least $5.00 and packs of three be sold for at least $7.50. This article describes the process of developing, passing, and implementing the policy, as well as the policy’s effects. The law has since resulted in an increase in average price, a decrease in the number of retailers selling single cigars, and a reduction in disparities in youth access to cigars across neighborhoods, race, and income. Learn more about minimum pack size and minimum prices for cigars.

  • Price elasticity of demand of non-cigarette tobacco products: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Tobacco Control
    • This study analyzed 36 other studies from 15 countries and found that a 10% increase in price would result in an 8.3% decrease in demand for cigars, a 6.4% decrease in demand for roll-your-own tobacco, and a 2.1% decrease in demand for smokeless tobacco. The studies included on cross-price elasticity showed that in high income countries, as prices increase for non-cigarette tobacco products (except for smokeless and roll your own), demand for cigarettes increases. This data indicates that price increases can be an effective tool to reduce consumption of non-cigarette tobacco products, and to avoid substitution, policies should increase prices for all tobacco products simultaneously. Learn more about non-tax policies that raise the price of tobacco.
  • Impact of tobacco control policies on adolescent smokeless tobacco and cigar use: a difference-in-differences approachBMC Public Health
    • This study analyzed data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys and state tobacco taxes between 1999 and 2013. Researchers found that chewing tobacco taxes and cigar taxes had no impact on the use of chewing tobacco and cigars among adolescents 14-19 years old. However, they also found that a 10% increase in cigarette taxes was associated with a 1.0% increase in smokeless tobacco use among males, a 1.5% increase in cigar use among males and a 0.7% increase in cigar use among females. Smoke-free legislation was associated with 1.1% increase in smokeless tobacco among males. This data indicates that policies like tax increases should be applied to all tobacco products and that comprehensive tobacco control policies are needed in order to reduce tobacco use. 

Advertising and Displays

  • Marlboro and Newport are two of the most popular brands among youth

    Cigarette Brand Preference and Pro-Tobacco Advertising Among Middle and High School Students – United Sates, 2012-2016, CDC MMWR

    • An analysis of the National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that Marlboro, Newport, and Camel were the three most common “usual brands” smoked by middle and high school students. Three brands were preferred by 73.1% of middle school smokers and 78.7% of high school smokers. Students also reported advertisements for these three brands as their favorite cigarette advertisements. Among current smokers, 72.1% identified the same brand that they usually smoked as the brand of their favorite cigarette advertisement. While tobacco companies claim they do not market to youth, their ads clearly reach and engage them.
  • Global evidence on the effect of point-of-sale display bans on smoking prevalence, Tobacco Control
    • An analysis of data from 2007-2014 across 77 countries showed that having a point-of-sale display ban reduced adult daily smoking by 7%, male smoking by 6% and female smoking by 9%.
  • “Their Packaging Has Always Been Like a Power”: A Qualitative Study of U.S. Smokers’ Perceptions of Cigarette Pack Visual Design Features to Inform Product Regulation, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    • The qualitative study was comprised of six focus groups with 33 participants selected for their diversity. Participants reported that the color of cigarettes packs was the most salient design element for them. Participants described the color of packaging as representing characteristics of the product, such as taste and strength. Participants also found logos and graphics, typography, and the pack itself to be important design elements as well, catching their eye and conveying other characteristics of the product. Changes to the pack design can draw consumers’ attention or change their perception of a product. This study provides additional evidence that changes to the visual design of a cigarette pack can affect consumer behavior, and researchers suggest that the design should be regulated under the Tobacco Control Act.

Menthol and other Flavored Tobacco Products 

  • Menthol cigarettes and the public health standard: a systematic reviewBMC Public Health 
    • This systematic review of 82 studies found that the removal of menthol from cigarettes would likely reduce youth smoking initiation, make it easier for adults to quit, and benefit public health. Fifteen years of national studies have shown that youth are more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes than adults and the proportion of youth who smoke menthol cigarettes is growing. Nine studies, one of which was longitudinal, showed that menthol smokers were more nicotine dependent than non-menthol smokers. Ten studies showed that menthol smokers had less success quitting smoking than non-menthol smokers. 
  • Harm Perceptions of Menthol and Nonmenthol Cigarettes Differ by Brand, Race/Ethnicity, and Gender in US Adult Smokers: Results from PATH Wave 1, Nicotine & Tobacco Research
    • Data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study showed that 40% of current smokers used menthol cigarettes. Prevalence varied by brand, with 94% smoking Newport, 46% smoking Camel, and 18% smoking Marlboro menthol cigarettes. However, 80% of all menthol smokers perceived their cigarettes as equally harmful as other brands, 14% thought they more harmful, and 7% thought they were less harmful. Menthol smokers were also more likely than non-menthol smokers to view their own brand as more harmful than other brands, though this associated varied by race and gender.
  • Flavored Cigars Appeal to Younger, Female, and Racial/Ethnic Minority College Students, Nicotine & Tobacco Research
    • Among 18-29 -year-old college students who currently use cigars, nearly 75% preferred flavored cigars. Students who were younger, female, of a racial/ethnic minority were significantly more likely to prefer flavored cigars than other students. In addition, students who currently smoked marijuana, had ever used blunts, or who reported using cigars because they were affordable and/or available in flavored that they liked were also more likely to choose flavored cigars than other students. Students who smoked both cigarettes and cigars, those who reported using cigars because of their cheaper price and because smoking cigars felt like smoking cigarettes were also more likely to prefer flavored cigars. Learn more about flavored tobacco products.


E-cig add next to jolly rancher ad


  • State-Specific Prevalence of Tobacco Product Use Among Adults – United States, 2014-2015, CDC MMWR
    • Ever-use of any tobacco product ranged from 27.0% in Utah to 55.4% in Wyoming
    • Current use of any tobacco product ranged from 10.2% in California to 27.7% in Wyoming
    • Cigarettes were the most common currently used tobacco product, and cigarette users who reported currently using one or more other tobacco products ranged from 11.5% in Delaware to 32.3% in Oregon
    • Eight of the ten states with the lowest prevalence of current tobacco use have comprehensive smokefree policies, and seven out of the ten states with the highest tobacco use prevalence do not have comprehensive smokefree laws.
  • Evaluation of California’s ‘Tobacco 21’ lawTobacco Control 
    • An evaluation of California’s policy raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco from 18 to 21 showed that seven months after the policy went into effect, 98.6% of retailers were aware of the new policy, and 60.6% of retailers were in support of it. The retailer violation rate (RVR) using youth under the age of 18 as decoys decreased from a 10.3% violate rate before the policy went into effect to 5.7% seven months afterwards .The RVR using young adults 18-19 years old as decoys was 14.2% for conventional tobacco and 13.1% for electronic smoking devices. Tobacco-only stores and vape shops were most likely to make an illegal sale, while pharmacies and supermarkets were least likely. The authors conclude that high awareness and support for the Tobacco 21 law may have contributed to it’s effective implementation. 
  • Public misperception that very low nicotine cigarettes are less carcinogenic, Tobacco Control
    • This study found that 47.1% of smokers believed that very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNC) are less likely than conventional cigarettes to cause cancer, and 23.9% of smokers said that would be less likely to quit if the US adopted a very low nicotine cigarette standard. The belief that VLNC are less likely to cause cancer was more prevalent among smokers over the age of 55 (56.6%) and black smokers (57.4%). Researchers suggest that if the US does adopt a very low nicotine cigarette standard, a communication campaign about the dangers of toxic chemicals in very low nicotine cigarettes may help reduce misperceptions and increase effectiveness.
  • Tobacco industry misappropriation of American Indian culture and traditional tobaccoTobacco Control
    • A search of the Truth Tobacco Documents Library revealed that the tobacco industry has been incorporating American Indian culture and traditional tobacco into their marketing tactics since at least the 1930s, though “Red Man” chewing tobacco was first introduced in 1904. Tobacco companies have used American Indian imagery (e.g. traditional headdresses and other cultural symbols) in their branding and advertising, misappropriating, co-opting, and stereotyping traditional tobacco use by some American Indian tribes to validate and make a profit off of commercial tobacco. These findings highlight the need for monitoring of tobacco industry marketing tactics as part of comprehensive measures to reduce the influence and harms of commercial tobacco. 

New Reports 

Industry News

POS Policy in the Media 


Menthol and other Flavored Tobacco Products

Tobacco 21

Find more stories in last month’s News and Research Roundup. 

Know of a story that we missed? Email us, and we’ll be sure to include it in next month’s roundup!


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