There were distinct differences in the attitudes and behaviours of premium cigar smokers and cigarillos / little cigar smokers toward tobacco products. These attitudes and behaviours influence the impact of graphic health warnings in terms of relevance and credibility, and therefore, impact.

Premium cigar smokers

Smokers of premium cigars differ considerably in their attitude to cigars compared to smokers of other tobacco products. They view smoking of cigars as a choice rather than addiction of habit. It is seen as a luxury and occurs in conjunction with a specific activity, for a specific occasion, or in a specific location.

The research found two very different types of premium cigar smokers. The first of these were more frequent premium cigar smokers. This group was often extremely knowledgeable about the different types of cigars, and regularly smoked different brands of cigars for both enjoyment and as a learning activity. Any preference for a specific brand may be driven by best value for money, the time available to enjoy the cigar, the company and the perceived quality of the tobacco used in the cigar. The brand name and variant of the cigar provides an indication of this type of product information. None of the more frequent premium cigar smokers interviewed smoked any other tobacco product.

Less frequent smokers of premium cigars tended to smoke these about twice a month on average. Some of the less frequent premium cigar smokers were smokers of other tobacco products, including cigarettes. These premium cigar smokers identified premium cigar smoking as a different experience to cigarettes. While they felt driven by habit to have a cigarette, premium cigar smoking was seen as an occasional pleasure. Their premium cigar smoking was generally associated with a specific activity, such as a card game, or an occasion, such as a success at work. These infrequent premium cigar smokers were less knowledgeable about premium cigars and how to determine quality so tended to be more influenced by brand names. These premium cigar smokers were more likely to assume quality based on country of origin, rather than having a more detailed understanding of what might differentiate premium cigars from one another. As reported by frequent and connoisseur premium cigar smokers this can include not only country of origin but also region, the type of tobacco, the actual roll itself, colour, smell, and age.

All smokers of premium cigars claimed to not inhale the tobacco smoke. Inhaling smoke from a premium cigar, or any cigar type product, was perceived as something only the na´ve would do. The pleasure of the cigar is in tasting the smoke.

Cigarillo / little cigar smokers

Two distinct types of cigarillo / little cigar smokers were also able to be identified. The first of these were those that also smoked premium cigars as well, rather than cigarettes or other tobacco products. Cigarillos / little cigars were chosen by these respondents over premium cigars as a means of enjoying the taste of cigar smoke, while not being as expensive or taking as long. These cigarillo / little cigar smokers would often enjoy a full size premium cigar with others in a social setting. This group tended to be very similar in attitudes and behaviours as the more frequent premium cigar smokers described above.

The other type of cigarillo / little cigar smoker was typically also a cigarette smoker or had been so in the relatively recent past. This group claimed to smoke cigarillos / little cigars for a number of reasons:
  • taste better than cigarettes;
  • reportedly smoked less cigarillos / little cigars than they would smoke cigarettes, therefore felt it was not as bad for their health;
  • the act of smoking a cigarillo / little cigar held an element of occasion; and
  • for a small few it was associated with a sense of status, with it being perceived as more refined / sophisticated than cigarettes.

These cigarillo / little cigar smokers tended to have established brand relationships, only smoking specific brands. That said, while there was some sense that some brands were of higher quality than others, cigarillo / little cigar smokers did not generally have a large amount of previous knowledge of brands other than their preferred brand.

Importantly, some cigarillo / little cigar smokers claimed to inhale the smoke. These were generally those that also smoked cigarettes or were trying to quit cigarettes.

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