Release Date:

August 15, 2013


Washington, DC – A field study involving all licensed tobacco retail outlets in the nation’s capital sheds light on how pervasive little cigars and cigarillos (LCCs) are in African American communities. An article published today in the American Journal of Public Health examines the links between little cigar and cigarillo availability, related exterior advertising, and price, as they relate to group demographics and other factors. The study from Legacy® - a national public health nonprofit located in Washington, D.C. - is the first study to examine the relationship between marketing and price of little cigars and cigarillos in the retail environment and across specific neighborhood demographics.

Between September 2011 and March 2012, trained fieldworkers visited every retail outlet designated as licensed to sell tobacco in 2011 by the Department of Health of Washington, DC. Fieldworkers collected data on the advertising and price of little cigars and cigarillos from a total of 750 stores selling tobacco products. In order to discreetly collect the information in the point-of-sale environment, workers used phone-based interactive voice recording, photo, and web capabilities to capture information.

Findings from the study show that:

  • LCCs are significantly more likely to be available in predominantly African American neighborhoods
  • LCCs are significantly cheaper in predominantly African American and some young adult neighborhoods
  • LCC advertising on the exterior of retail outlets is significantly more prevalent in neighborhoods with African Americans and young adults

The broad availability and higher level of advertising of LCCs in young adult and African American communities can have many repercussions.

“Research indicates that people typically begin using LCC products in young adulthood,” said Jennifer Cantrell, DrPH, Director of Research and Evaluation at Legacy and lead author of this study. “Without ever entering a store, young adults and individuals in African American communities are disproportionately exposed to storefront LCC advertisements. Little cigars and cigarillos can also be purchased at lower prices, a proven technique for increasing demand.”

The high availability and lower prices, combined with a greater amount of outdoor advertising, may establish environmental triggers to smoke among groups susceptible to initiation, addiction, and the long-term negative health consequences of tobacco use.

“We know the African American community already suffers from a disproportionate burden of tobacco-related morbidity and mortality, said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO at Legacy. “Marketing tactics like lower prices and heavy advertising may only help to magnify that disparity.  Already, more than 45,000 African Americans lose their lives each year to tobacco-related diseases, including heart disease, cancers, emphysema and stroke.”

Currently, little cigars and cigarillos are not held to the same federal regulations as cigarettes. As a policy, Legacy has stated it would like to see LCCs subject to the same regulations as cigarettes, specifically regarding bans on flavors, taxation, and advertising restrictions.

As this study shows, monitoring the point-of-sale environment can provide critical information about product availability, advertising, and cost, which in turn has important implications for tobacco use among certain populations. Real-time surveillance of the retail environment can allow rapid policy responses to increasingly popular tobacco products such as LCCs, ultimately helping prevent industry targeting of vulnerable populations that are already disproportionately impacted by tobacco-related illnesses. Legacy is strongly committed to raising awareness about all tobacco products and focusing on solutions to minimize the negative impacts on health and health disparities arising from tobacco use.



Legacy helps people live longer, healthier lives by building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Legacy’s proven-effective and nationally recognized public education programs include truth®, the national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. To learn more about Legacy’s life-saving programs, visit

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