Aims: To examine internal tobacco industry research on female smoking patterns and product preferences, and how this research has informed the design of female-targeted cigarettes and impacted smoking behavior among this target population.
Design: Research was conducted through a systematic web-based search of previously secret industry documents made publicly available through the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement.
Findings: This study provides evidence that the tobacco industry has conducted extensive research on female smoking patterns, needs and product preferences, and has intentionally modified product design for promotion of cigarette smoking among women. Cigarette manufacturers responded to changing female trends by focusing on social and health concerns as well as promoting dual-sex brands that also featured traditional female style characteristics.
Conclusions: Product features responsive to female-identified needs and preferences may contribute to differences in female smoking patterns. Assessment of female-targeted product differences should inform smoking cessation and prevention programs tailored to women. Overall, these findings underscore the need for further investigation of effects of targeting on smoking behavior, health outcomes and regulation of tobacco products by public health agencies.