Little cigars and filtered cigars are currently growing in popularity due to their low cost and wide variety of flavors while retaining an appearance similar to cigarettes. Given the health consequences associated with cigarette use, it is important to understand the potential harm associated with these similar products. This includes the potential harm associated with carbonyls (eg, acetaldehyde, acrolein, formaldehyde, etc.), an important class of toxicants and carcinogens in tobacco smoke. Our objective was to determine the carbonyl levels in mainstream smoke from little and filtered cigars compared to cigarettes.
We examined two brands each of little cigars and filtered cigars, as well as two research cigarettes for carbonyl delivery using the International Organization of Standards (ISO) and the Health Canada Intense (HCI) machine-smoking protocols.
On a per puff basis, the levels of five of the seven carbonyls were higher from little cigars than filtered cigars and cigarettes (ISO: 56–116%; HCI: 39–85%; p < .05). On a per unit basis, most carbonyl levels were higher from both cigar types than cigarettes using the ISO method (ISO: 51–313%; p < .05) whereas only filtered cigars were higher using the HCI method (HCI: 53–99%; p < .05).
These findings suggest that cigar smokers can be exposed to higher levels of carbonyls per cigar than cigarette smokers per cigarette.
These data will increase our understanding of the relative harm from carbonyl exposure from little and filtered cigars both for cigar-only smokers and the cumulative harm among the growing population of cigarette–cigar multi-product smokers.