Flavor capsule cigarettes in six countries: availability by brand, variant and flavor
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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Health, Behavior & Society, United States of America
Institute for Global Tobacco Control at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States of America
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A506
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Flavor capsule cigarettes, containing capsules inside the filters that smokers can press to release a liquid that flavors smoke, are growing in popularity. Flavor capsule variants (FCVs) may appeal to youth and result in misperceptions of relative harm. We examined the FCVs on the market in six countries and describe their availability by variant and brand between 2013 and 2015/2016, as well as available flavors in 2015/2016.

A census of unique cigarette packs was purchased using a systematic protocol in 2013 and 2015/ 2016 in Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Legal cigarette packs (n=2301) were coded for brand, brand owner, capsule presence, and flavor.

In 2013, across six countries, we purchased 18 FCVs under 10 brands sold by four brand owners. In 2015/2016, there were 34 FCVs under 19 brands from five brand owners. The number of FCVs purchased during 2015/2016 compared to 2013 stayed the same in Russia and increased in all other countries. In the Philippines, the number of FCVs increased from three (2013) to 16 (2016). Of the 34 FCVs sold across six countries in 2015/2016, 11 contained menthol or mint, four touted capsules that release a “fresh” flavor, and five incorporated mint and “purple” (e.g. Winston Purple Mint). Other flavors included lime (n=1), orange (n=1), and “Ibiza sunset” (n=1). The flavors of a further 11 FCVs were not clear but the packaging and/or capsules incorporated blue and green colors, potentially indicating menthol flavoring.

The number of FCVs available on the market is growing and potentially fueling flavor capsule cigarette market share growth. Many FCVs contain menthol or mint capsules, however many are not described as characterizing flavors. These findings can inform advocacy efforts that call for stronger regulation of flavored cigarettes and inform research examining marketing and consumer perceptions of flavor capsule cigarettes.

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