RJO has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration on tobacco regulatory matters. KMC and DH have provided testimony on behalf of plaintiffs in cases against the tobacco industry. CT is currently employed by the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products; however, her research and contributions to this manuscript are associated with prior employment and work at West Virginia University and do not reflect or represent the views of the Food and Drug Administration.
RJO conducted data analysis and wrote the first draft. MBT, KMC, JFT, and CT contributed to study design, conduct, and preparation of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Cigarettes are marketed in a wide array of packaging and product configurations, and these may impact consumers’ perceptions of product health effects and attractiveness. Filtered cigarettes are typically perceived as less hazardous and white tipping paper (as opposed to cork) often conveys ‘lightness’.
This study examined cigarette-related perceptions among 1220 young adult (age 18-35) current, ever, and never smokers recruited from three eastern U.S. cities (Buffalo NY, Columbia SC, Morgantown WV). Participants rated three cigarette sticks: two filtered cigarettes 85 mm in length, differing only in tipping paper color (cork versus white), and an unfiltered 70 mm cigarette.
Overall, the cork-tipped cigarette was most commonly selected on taste and attractiveness, the white-tipped on least dangerous, and the unfiltered on most dangerous. Current smokers were more likely to select white-tipped (OR = 1.98) and cork-tipped (OR = 3.42) cigarettes, while ever smokers more commonly selected the cork-tipped (OR = 1.96), as most willing to try over the other products. Those willing to try the filtered white-tipped cigarette were more likely to have rated that cigarette as best tasting (OR = 11.10), attracting attention (OR = 17.91), and lowest health risk (OR = 1.94). Similarly, those willing to try cork tipped or unfiltered cigarettes rated those as best testing, attracting attention, and lowest health risk, respectively.
Findings from this study demonstrate that consumer product perceptions can be influenced by elements of cigarette design, such as the presence and color of the filter tip.