Trends in use of little cigars or cigarillos and cigarettes among U.S. smokers, 2002-2011

Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 May;17(5):515-23. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu179. Epub 2014 Sep 19.


Objectives: Little cigars and cigarillos may resemble cigarettes, but may be less expensive and can be purchased singly and in flavored varieties. We used two major U.S. surveys to investigate use of cigarillos and cigarettes.

Methods: The 2010/2011 Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey ascertained cigar use by brand and type (little cigars/cigarillos or large/regular). The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) assessed cigar use by brand, 2002-2011. We used the available data to classify cigars by type among males in the NSDUH.

Results: Estimated prevalence of little cigar use among male cigar smokers was similar using the two surveys. From 2002 to 2011, past-30-day cigarette smoking declined for all age groups and genders, but among young adult men (aged 18-25) little cigar smoking remained steady at nearly 9%. "Cigarette and/or cigar" smoking was 44% among young adult men in 2011, and was consistently 6 percentage points higher than cigarette-only smoking, from 2002 to 2011. Over 60% of male and 70% of female adolescent/young adult cigar smokers also smoked cigarettes in 2011. Most male adolescents preferred little cigars to traditional cigars. Among males, most lower income or less educated cigar smokers preferred little cigars, compared to only 16% of those with higher education.

Conclusions: These patterns indicate that little cigar/cigarillo use may promote initiation and maintenance of cigarette smoking, particularly among younger and less advantaged populations. Population-level data are urgently needed to better assess type of cigar smoked and reasons for use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Flavoring Agents
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Products* / classification
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Flavoring Agents