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Background: Cigarettes are marketed in a wide array of packaging and product configurations, and these may impact consumers’ perceptions of product health effects and attractiveness. Filtered cigarettes are typically perceived as less hazardous and white tipping paper (as opposed to cork) often conveys ‘lightness’.

Methods: This study examined cigarette-related perceptions among 1220 young adult (age 18-35) current, ever, and never smokers recruited from three eastern U.S. cities (Buffalo NY, Columbia SC, Morgantown WV). Participants rated three cigarette sticks: two filtered cigarettes 85 mm in length, differing only in tipping paper color (cork versus white), and an unfiltered 70 mm cigarette.

Results: Overall, the cork-tipped cigarette was most commonly selected on taste and attractiveness, the white-tipped on least dangerous, and the unfiltered on most dangerous. Current smokers were more likely to select white-tipped (OR = 1.98) and cork-tipped (OR = 3.42) cigarettes, while ever smokers more commonly selected the cork-tipped (OR = 1.96), as most willing to try over the other products. Those willing to try the filtered white-tipped cigarette were more likely to have rated that cigarette as best tasting (OR = 11.10), attracting attention (OR = 17.91), and lowest health risk (OR = 1.94). Similarly, those willing to try cork tipped or unfiltered cigarettes rated those as best testing, attracting attention, and lowest health risk, respectively.

Conclusions: Findings from this study demonstrate that consumer product perceptions can be influenced by elements of cigarette design, such as the presence and color of the filter tip.


© 2015 O’Connor et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

O’Connor, R., Bansal-Travers, M., Cummings, K., Hammond, D., Thrasher, J., & Tworek, C. (2015). Filter presence and tipping paper color influence consumer perceptions of cigarettes. BMC Public Health, 15(1279). doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-2643-z