The growth of Roll-Your-Own (RYO) cigarettes in Ireland: exploring the experiences of young people and RYO tobacco
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TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI), Ireland
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A550
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The current smoking prevalence rate in Ireland is 18.6% (HSE, 2016). Ireland aims to be tobacco free by 2025 (prevalence rate of less than 5%). Previously the TFRI found high prevalence rates of RYO use among young smokers (16-17 years) with this group being more likely to exclusively smoke RYO (32%) compared to factory manufactured (FM) cigarettes (28%) (Babineau et al., 2015). In adults RYO use has increased from 4.4% in 2006 to 29.7% in 2016 (HSE, 2016) and first time smokers under 25 years are more likely to smoke RYO cigarettes (50.6%) compared to factory manufactured cigarettes (49.4%; HSE, 2017).

This study explores the increasing popularity of RYO products and looks for possible policy interventions that can be recommended. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with two groups aged 16-22 years, with one group comprising of university students and the other with young people attending youth organisations for early-school leavers.

Preliminary findings indicate two overarching themes; facilitative and inhibitory factors. Intrinsic aspects of the products such as the lower cost of RYO tobacco in comparison to FM cigarettes often prompted users to begin smoking RYO, with peer influences and the presence of rituals surrounding the use of RYO products contributing positively to RYO users' experiences. Inhibitory factors associated with RYO include family disapproval, difficulty in concealment, time needed, weather conditions and embarrassment.

Low cost of RYO products is the main incentive for their use and demands the equalisation of the prices of RYO and cigarettes by raising taxes on RYO tobacco products. Recommendations focused on the further denormalisation of smoking such as targeted programmes working with youth smokers, recognition of the role of family influences and particularly the introduction and enforcement of smoke-free third level campuses are warranted.