Introduction: Although the FDA prohibits using inaccurate, reduced-risk descriptors on tobacco product advertising, descriptors that imply reduced risk or an enhanced user experience may be present on cigar product advertising in retail outlets near schools. Therefore, to inform the development of federal labeling and advertising requirements that reduce youth appeal of cigars, we conducted a content analysis of cigar ads in retailers near schools to document the presence of implied health claims and other selling propositions that may convey enhanced smoking experience.
Aims and methods: Up to four interior and exterior little cigar and cigarillo advertisements were photographed in a random sample of licensed tobacco retailers (n = 530) near California middle and high schools. Unique ads (n = 234) were coded for brand, flavor, and presence of implicit health claims, premium branding descriptors, and sensory descriptors. Logistic regressions assessed the association among flavored ads and presence of implicit health claims, premium branding, or sensory descriptors.
Results: Seventeen cigar brands were advertised near schools; Black & Mild (20.1%) and Swisher Sweets (20.1%) were most common. Flavor was featured in 64.5% of ads, with explicit flavor names (eg, grape) being more prevalent than ambiguous names (eg, Jazz) (49.6% vs. 34.2%). Compared to ads without flavors, ads with ambiguous flavors were more likely to feature implicit health claims (OR = 1.83, 95% CI = 1.06% to 3.19%) and sensory descriptors (OR = 2.64, 95% CI = 1.39% to 5.04%); ads with explicit flavors were more likely to feature premium branding (OR = 2.84, 95% CI = 1.53% to 5.41%).
Conclusions: Cigar ads that featured implicit health claims and premium branding, and sensory selling propositions are present at retailer stores near schools.
Implications: We document the presence of implied health claims, premium branding, and sensory descriptors on cigar ads found in retail settings near schools. This study adds to the body of evidence that supports the development of federal labeling and advertising requirements for cigar products to reduce their appeal among vulnerable groups.
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