Smoking Behavior: How Close to the Tipping Do Consumers Actually Smoke?

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Abstract

When smoked by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) method, the standard butt length for filtered cigarettes is specified as tipping plus 3 mm. One of the criticisms of this standard is that the tipping overlap hides some of the tobacco column and that consumers actually smoke cigarettes past the tipping.

The objective of this study was to determine how consumers actually smoke their usual brand when smoking in their everyday environment. A portable device was designed to collect and preserve cigarettes from consumers after smoking. In use, the smoldering cigarette is dropped into the device and it is closed. Upon closing, the cigarette is extinguished, the mouth end of the filter is cut and separated for further analysis, and the date and time are recorded.

Fifty adult smokers per brand were recruited across 5 US cities (10 smokers/city). A wide range of brands was studied: menthol and non-menthol, 1 mg to 18 mg FTC ‘tar’ yield, 17 to 25 mm circumference, and both 85 and 100 mm lengths. A total of 10528 cigarettes from 803 subjects covering 17 brands was measured.

The subjects were provided with one pack of their usual brand, as well as a collection device, and were instructed on how to use the device. The devices were collected on subsequent days. The cigarettes were then removed and the distance from the tipping to the char line was measured. The overall median butt length was tipping plus 6.7 mm with an overall average of tipping plus 8.4 mm. There was no significant effect of FTC ‘tar’ yield on either mean (p = 0.72) or median (p = 0.92) butt length.

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