Online Program

Availability, Preferences and use of Flavored Cigars among Urban Youth

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Jean Schensul, PhD, Institute for Community Research, Hartford, CT
Elicia Flemming, B.A., Institute for Community Research, Hartford, CT

Rates of flavored cigar use have increased over the past twenty years especially among Hispanic, LgTBQ and African American youth.  Data collected from young adults during 1999 – 2009 in the Hartford CT area showed youth smoked cigarettes, regular cigars and blunts but not flavored tobaccos. 


In 2014 we documented types and brands of flavored cigars and cigar products sold in 89 outlets in the Hartford area, and conducted indepth interviews with 22 young cigar smoking Hartford males and females aged 18 – 30, 15 male and 7 female, about their cigar use, preferences and appeals. Youth free-associated words with cigars and used photographs to identify cigar products they used and preferred. Interviews were downloaded, summarized, and coded. Word associations were grouped and counted. Preferences were ranked and reasons clustered. 


Twenty eight cigar products were observed. Prices ranged from several for $1.00 to $2.50.  Products include flavored cigarillos sold singly, in pouches or boxes (13); mid-sized flavored cigars (2), larger cigars (blunts/philly’s (3), wraps (3) and e-cigars (1). Flavors included grape (4), berries and other fruits (7), wine (2), vanilla (2) and others with names signifying masculinity (4). 4 were unflavored. In the association exercise, taste and smell, and other tobaccos were mentioned most (7 each); other associations were alcohol (6), anxiety relief (6), and power/money/masculinity (5), cost, family and friends and pleasure (4 each), and marijuana (3). Appeals included, price, smell and taste, masculine image, size, packaging (shiny; singles; pouches for freshness; seductiveness). Other factors governing choice were friability, burn speed, gender and whether rappers mentioned the cigar brand.


Flavored cigars are readily available and promoted to urban youth. Increasing taxes, prohibiting flavorings in tobacco products and controlling marketing through music should reduce the prevalence of flavored cigar smoking in new populations of U.S. young urban adults.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe factors contributing to flavored cigar use among young urban adults Extend methodology to conduct mixed methods research on flavored cigar use Identify potential approaches for controlling flavored tobacco production, marketing and use

Keyword(s): Tobacco Use, Tobacco Control

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been doing NIH funded research on substance abuse among urban youth and young adults for the past two decades. For the past five years I have been funded to do studies of smokeless tobaco use among women in India. I want to apply methodology used in India to the problem of flavored cigar and other tobacco use among urban area youth, for purposes of contributing to tobacco control efforts in U.S.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.