Cigarettes, little cigars, and cigarillos: Initiation, motivation, and decision-making

Elizabeth Antognoli, Sarah Koopman Gonzalez, Erika Trapl, David Cavallo, Brittany Lavanty, Rock Lim, Susan Flocke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction Cigarettes and little cigars and cigarillos (LCCs) are the most prevalent dual-use tobacco combination; one-third of cigarette smokers use LCCs. Risk factors for multiple tobacco product use have been reported; however, there is little understanding of why some individuals transition to and maintain multiple product use. In this study, we examine narratives of tobacco product initiation and decision-making among LCC-only and LCC-cigarette smokers. Methods We audio-recorded in-depth interviews with 60 individuals, aged 14-28, who reported smoking more than or equal to 1 cigarillo per week; half also smoked cigarettes. Transcribed interviews were coded using a phenomenological approach to examine themes about smoking initiation, motivation, and product decision-making. Results Among dual users, 60% began smoking LCCs before or at the same time as cigarettes, and 40% began smoking cigarettes first. Reasons for smoking cigarettes in addition to LCCs included easier access when experiencing craving and less time to smoke the product. Cigarette smokers reported first smoking LCCs in social contexts when sharing LCCs with other smokers, or when they could afford a single LCC but not a pack of cigarettes. LCC-only smokers reported not smoking cigarettes because of their expense, unpleasant taste and/or smell, and fear of becoming addicted. Conclusions In this sample of current LCC users, half also used cigarettes. Product initiation order was almost evenly split, but reasons for initiating the second product differed, with immediacy of reducing cravings as a key reason for LCC users to smoke a cigarette and social and financial reasons for cigarette users to smoke an LCC. Implications Understanding how and why dual use is initiated and sustained can inform policies to help prevent increased nicotine dependence and initiation of additional tobacco products. This study demonstrates that the beliefs, perceptions, and practices of LCC-only and dual users inform their product selection. Our findings point to the need to apply the strategies that have been effective at decreasing cigarette consumption to LCCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S5-S11
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
StatePublished - Aug 14 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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