Flavor capsule cigarette use, user profiles and perceptions in South Korea
Yoo Jin Cho 1  
,   James F Thrasher 1, 2
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University of South Carolina, Health Promotion, Education, & Behavior, United States of America
National Institute of Public Health, Department of Tobacco Research, Mexico
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A488
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Industry reports celebrate market growth from the recent cigarette design innovation of flavor capsules in the filter, which smokers crush to release a liquid that flavors the smoke. However, limited information exists regarding flavor capsule cigarette smokers, including in South Korea, where this market segment has rapidly grown. This study assessed (1) the prevalence, correlates, and perceptions of smokers having flavor capsule cigarette brands as their regular brands in Korea, as well as (2) the recency of brand adoption and the reason for choosing the brand.

Data come from a nationally representative sample of 1,940 adult smokers who participated in the 2016 International Tobacco Control Project (ITC) Korea survey.

The prevalence of smokers who preferred flavor capsule brand varieties was 18%. Flavor capsule cigarette smokers were more likely than regular cigarette smokers to be younger (e.g. AOR [Adjusted odds ratio] 29-38 vs. 19-28: 0.38, p < . 001), female (AOR: 1.51, p < . 05), and report lower nicotine dependence (AOR: 0.87, p < . 01). Flavor capsule cigarette smokers were also more likely than regular cigarette smokers to report that their cigarette varieties are lighter in taste (b: 0.18, p < . 01) and smoother on throat (b: 0.12, p < .05), which promotes misperceptions of reduced harm. They were more likely than regular cigarette smokers to report that they had smoked the current usual brand less than 1 year (AOR: 4.81, p < . 001) and that they chose their brand because of taste (AOR: 4.55, p < .05).

Preference for flavor capsule cigarettes is high in Korea, especially among vulnerable populations such as young adults and females. Given that flavors mask the harshness of tobacco smoke and promote addiction, regulators should ban this newly introduced cigarette design innovation.