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Increase in the use of roll-your-own tobacco with respect to traditional cigarettes

A new study undertaken by researchers from the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) shows that the consumption of traditional manufactured cigarettes among smokers has declined by 17.3% while that of roll-your-own tobacco has multiplied by 11, increasing from 1.4% to 15.4%. A more accessible price and mistaken beliefs could be the reasons explaining this increase in the consumption of roll-your-own tobacco.

20/04/2017 10:04
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Roll-your-own tobacco has seen an increase of 91% among smokers during the period from 2004 to 2012. This is the main conclusion that deduced from a study led by Professor Esteve Fernández, director of the WHO Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre and ICO-IDIBELL researcher, and whose first named author is Xisca Sureda, currently professor at the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH), with the collaboration of the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM).
The study compares the prevalence and consumption patterns of tobacco before the application of Law 28/2005 and after the implementation of Law 42/2010 on healthcare measures with respect to smoking and regulating the sales, supply, consumption and advertising of tobacco-related products.

Increase in the use of roll-your-own tobacco
This new study shows that the prevalence in tobacco consumption has changed little, falling from 26.6% to 24.1%, with the same temporal evolution observed before the entry into force of the laws. However, the habits of smokers have changed. Among smokers, the consumption of traditional cigarettes has reduced from 89.1% to 71.8%, while that of roll-your-own tobacco has increased by 91%, rising from 1.4% to 15.4%.
According to data obtained in the surveys carried out between 2004-2005 and 2011-2012 among 1,037 residents of the city of Barcelona, the proportion of roll-your-own tobacco smokers is higher among men (19.8% against 9.5% of women), among people aged between 16 and 44 years (22.9% against 5.8% of participants aged 45 to 65 and 4% of those older than 65) and among those surveyed with secondary and university education (17.7% and 18.5%, respectively, against 7.9% of those surveyed with primary education studies)

Cheaper and mistaken beliefs
“A more accessible price and certain mistaken beliefs among smokers may be the reasons that explain the increase in the consumption of roll-your-own tobacco” states Dr Xisca Sureda. “Users of roll-your-own tobacco think that they smoke less quantity and that this type of cigarette is less dangerous to their health than manufactured cigarettes” she adds. Despite this, the study details confirm that no difference exists in the concentrations of cotinine (tobacco alkaloid and nicotine metabolite) in samples of saliva from smokers. “Roll-your-own tobacco has the same nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide content as traditional cigarettes, there is no difference” Sureda affirms.

New regulation policies
Moreover, policies regulating the price of tobacco in Spain have mainly affected traditional tobacco while other types of tobacco, such as roll-your-own tobacco, have become more economical and accessible for smokers. “Taking into account these results it is necessary to review taxes with the aim of equalising the price of the different tobacco products. Increasing the price is the main measure for controlling tobacco consumption” states Esteve Fernández, the project’s principal investigator, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Control of the ICO and an ICO-IDIBELL researcher.

Bibliographic reference: “Manufactured and roll-your-own cigarettes: a changing pattern of smoking in Barcelona, Spain”, Xisca Sureda, Marcela Fu, José M. Martínez-Sánchez, Cristina Martínez, Montse Ballbé, Raúl Pérez-Ortuño, Esteve Saltó, José A. Pascual, Esteve Fernández. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2017.02.012