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Little Cigars: The Preferred Tobacco Product Among Freshmen at an HBCU. Presentation to HWTF Teen Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation grantees June 17, 2010. Survey Methods.

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little cigars the preferred tobacco product among freshmen at an hbcu

Little Cigars: The Preferred Tobacco Product Among Freshmen at an HBCU

Presentation to

HWTF Teen Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation grantees June 17, 2010

survey methods
Survey Methods
  • In fall 2003, a paper and pencil, self-administered screening survey on tobacco use was administered to NCCU freshmen in sections of a required introductory course.
  • Survey was part of a one-year cohort study on factors influencing the initiation and entrenchment of smoking among freshmen at an historically Black university.
screener sample
Screener Sample

684 freshmen (57%) completed screening survey

  • 68% female
  • 96% African American
  • 88% living on campus
  • 99% full-time students
an intro to little cigars lcs
An Intro To Little Cigars (LCs)
  • Also known as cigarillos
  • Much smaller than traditional cigars
  • Big cigars are sometimes hollowed out and filled with marijuana.
  • For some blunts are big tobacco-filled cigars (e.g., Philly Blunts); for others they are marijuana-filled cigars.
  • It gets confusing, but clear distinctions are critical!
an intro to little cigars lcs1
An Intro To Little Cigars (LCs)
  • Nicotine content of LCs is unclear, but most users inhale - to get a buzz.
  • In a social setting one LC is often passed around among friends, much like a joint.
  • 5 per pack; in NC cost about $2.50 pack
  • Singles or loosies sell for $.75
hyping
Hyping
  • A process some smokers engage in to make the LC burn more quickly and “pull easier”
  • Tobacco is completely emptied from the LC, the filter is taken off, a paper (sometimes called the cancer stick) that lines the little cigar is removed, then the tobacco is put back in.
  • Requires time and technique; a ritual for some
focus groups exploring the use of little cigars
Focus Groups: Exploring the Use of Little Cigars
  • In July 2005, 3 focus groups were conducted with NCCU students who were current or former smokers of little cigars.
  • 21 students participated
  • 16 males, 5 females; all African American
  • Focus groups lasted 60-90 minutes
  • Participants received a $30 gift certificate
topics
Topics
  • Current smoking status
  • Brands of LCs smoked
  • Reasons for smoking LCs
  • Social context of smoking
  • Amount smoked
  • Risks relative to cigarettes – addiction and health problems
  • Thoughts about quitting
smoking status
Smoking Status
  • 20 of 21 currently smoked LCs; one was a former user
  • Only 6 of 21 also smoked cigarettes; one other was a former user
brands of lcs smoked
Brands of LCs Smoked
  • Black and Milds (aka Blacks) were overwhelmingly the brand of choice.
  • In fact, Blacks were synonymous with little cigars (like Kleenex and Jello).
  • Some had tried other brands (Swisher Sweets, Black Magic) but preferred Blacks.
  • A few smoked flavored Blacks (e.g., vanilla).
why little cigars over cigarettes
Why Little Cigars Over Cigarettes?
  • Better taste and smell
    • “Black & Milds are smooth. Cigarettes taste like chemicals.”
    • “Cigarettes smell your clothes.”
    • “Girls say [cigarettes] stink.”
  • Better buzz/high
    • “I get more of a buzz with my first cigarette. But when I smoke Black & Milds, I get a buzz every time I pull.”
why little cigars over cigarettes1
Why Little Cigars Over Cigarettes?
  • It’s part of partying.
    • “It went hand in hand at parties.”
    • “Drinking and Blacks go together.”
  • It’s more social.
    • “Normally people smoke and pass.”
    • “We might share while in the line at the club.”
  • Status
    • “They look cool.”
    • “It’s the fad in fashion.”
why little cigars over cigarettes2
Why Little Cigars Over Cigarettes?
  • They’re less addictive.
    • “I started smoking blacks in order to stop smoking cigarettes.”
    • “People who smoke cigarettes feign for cigarettes. With blacks if you don’t have one, it’s cool.”
  • They’re less harmful.
    • “They’re not as many toxic gases.”
    • “My grandma died from cigarettes.”
  • You can make them safer by “hyping”
    • “When you remove the cancer paper, it takes out some of the stuff.”
when and where do you smoke
When and Where Do You Smoke?
  • When drinking at the club or a party
  • After a meal (but not on an empty stomach – laxative effect!)
  • When stressed.
    • “I smoke after class, after work, after an argument to mellow out and get my head together. It keeps me calm.”
  • With friends
  • When smoking marijuana.
    • “Now I smoke after weed to get an extra boost.”
how much do you smoke and how do you smoke it
How Much Do You Smoke and How Do You Smoke It?
  • Responses ranged from a pack a day to a pack every 2 weeks.
  • Those who also smoked cigarettes smoked more cigarettes than LCs.
    • “A pack [of LCs] lasts me 2 weeks, but I smoke cigarettes every day for stress.”
    • “I might smoke a pack of Blacks in a week and 3 packs of cigarettes the next week.”
how much do you smoke and how do you smoke it1
How Much Do You Smoke and How Do You Smoke It?
  • But many people don’t smoke a whole LC at one time.
    • “It is hard to smoke a whole black. When I smoke, I have 3 sessions with one Black.”
    • “I smoke, then put it out, then smoke the rest later.”
    • “I can’t smoke a whole Black. You have to share.”
  • Most people share.
    • “Collectively we might smoke 5 to 6 Blacks in a day.”
    • “Everyone wants to hit Blacks.”
    • “No one is stingy with Blacks.”
beliefs about addiction
Beliefs About Addiction
  • There was widespread belief that LCs are not as addictive as cigarettes.
    • “You can shake the habit of Blacks, but you can’t do that with cigarettes.”
    • “People do not smoke cigarettes for leisure. Black & Milds are smoked for leisure.”
    • “Smoking Blacks you don’t feel as addicted.”
  • A minority disagreed.
    • “I don’t understand, it’s all tobacco.”
    • “It’s the same. It’s a different gun but the same bullet.”
beliefs about health risks
Beliefs About Health Risks
  • Some believed LCs are less harmful than cigarettes - for various reasons.
    • “I don’t think it’s as bad because people do not smoke Black & Milds as much.”
    • “Cigarettes have more chemicals.”
    • “When you smoke a cigarette, the paper turns brown. But when you smoke a Black & Mild, there is no color change. So it is not as harmful.”
  • Some believed the risks were equivalent.
    • “It’s the same thing – tobacco is tobacco.”
    • “With Blacks you might get the same diseases as cigarette smokers, but it will happen at a slower rate.”
beliefs about health risks1
Beliefs About Health Risks
  • Some believed LCs are more harmful than cigarettes – for various reasons.
    • “It is worse. I heard one Black & Mild equals 10 cigarettes.
    • “Well, if we’re taking the filter out, it has to be worse. But it is still all smoke. The paper acts like a filter, right?”
    • “The paper makes Blacks more dangerous.”
beliefs about health risks2
Beliefs About Health Risks
  • A number seemed genuinely confused and interested in learning more.
    • “My brother said that the cancer stick was a filter. But I thought it made the Black worse.”
    • “I believe [Blacks are worse] but I hope to find out more.”
    • “What is in the paper that they make Blacks out of?”
    • “Coming here makes me want to research more tonight. I thought it had fewer chemicals.”
implications for tobacco prevention and cessation programs
Implications for Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs
  • Address the use of little cigars.
  • Make clear distinctions
    • little cigars vs. big cigars vs. blunts
    • smoking tobacco vs. smoking marijuana
  • Many students want the truth about LCs. Give them straight information.
  • Debunk the myths that:
    • It’s not addictive.
    • It’s a healthier alternative to cigarettes.
    • Hyping reduces the risk.
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