Design Characteristics and Tobacco Metal Concentrations in Filtered Cigars

Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 Nov;17(11):1331-6. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu341. Epub 2015 Feb 3.


Introduction: While U.S. cigarette consumption has declined, cigar use has steadily increased, for reasons including price compared to cigarettes and the availability of filtered varieties resembling cigarettes, and flavors that have been banned in cigarettes (excluding menthol). Little published data exists on the design characteristics of such cigars.

Methods: A variety of filtered cigar brands were tested for design characteristics such as whole cigar weight, ventilation, and per-cigar tobacco weight. Cigar sticks were then sent to the University of St. Andrews for metal concentration testing of As, Pb, Cr, Ni, and Cd.

Results: Large and small cigars were statistically different between cigar weight (p ≤ .001), per-cigar tobacco weight (p = .001), rod diameter (p = .006), and filter diameter (p = .012). The differences in mean ventilation (overall mean = 19.6%, min. = 0.84%, max. = 57.6%) across filtered cigar brands were found to be statistically significant (p = .031), and can be compared to the ventilation of the average of 2013 U.S. Marlboro Red, Gold, and Silver packs at 29% ventilation. There were no significant differences for metal concentrations between cigar types (p = .650), with Pb and As levels being similar to U.S. 2009 cigarette concentrations, Cd cigar levels being slightly higher, and Cr and Ni levels much lower than cigarette levels.

Conclusions: With cigar use rising, and filtered cigars displaying substantial similarities to filtered cigarettes, more research on product characteristics is warranted. Future plans include testing tobacco alkaloid and more observation of cigar weight for tax bracket purposes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Commerce
  • Humans
  • Metals, Heavy / chemistry*
  • Smoking*
  • Tobacco Products / analysis*
  • Tobacco Products / economics
  • United States


  • Metals, Heavy