News releases

July 26, 2005

The magic formula for selling cigarettes—make it easier to control the nicotine dose.

(Ottawa) – Research conducted by Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) has found that the most popular cigarette brands are those which are manufactured in ways which make it easier for a smoker to control the dose of nicotine.

PSC researchers explored whether tobacco companies were able to increase the 'reward to effort' or 'elasticity' for cigarettes by calculating the the increase in nicotine delivered by larger puffs from the major brands of cigarettes sold in Canada.  Of the 115 brands tested, only 23 were found to be 'elastic,' but those brands accounted for  60% of cigarette sales. Research results were published today in Chronic Diseases in Canada.

"From our research it is very clear that elastic cigarettes sell better than inelastic ones," said lead researcher Michael Chaiton. "Because our research showed this was independent of the brand name, length or designation of the cigarette as 'light', we know that this difference is due to the design of the cigarette and not the way it was marketed."

"Elastic cigarettes are highly engineered and designed nicotine delivery devices," commented Neil Collishaw, PSC's research director and one of the authors of the research report. "They allow consumers to self-administer exactly the dose of nicotine that they crave, without the consumer even being aware that they are probably getting more nicotine and other poisons than they think they are," he concluded.

"To date there has been very little research outside of the tobacco industry on how the design of cigarettes affects smoking behaviour," said Michael Chaiton, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto. "This study shows that cigarette design features make a difference, and suggests that a better understanding of these differences could help regulators reduce the harm caused by smoking."

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada hopes this research helps governments to develop regulatory control over cigarette design. "The government has recently passed important regulations which will reduce the number of cigarette-caused fires," said PSC executive director, Cynthia Callard. "This research suggests that the potential to use similar regulatory controls on cigarette design to reduce the addictiveness or harmfulness of cigarettes should be explored."


For further information, contact Cynthia Callard or Neil Collishaw at 1 613 233 4878 or Michael Chaiton at 1 416 897 6813

Research report: in Chronic Diseases in Canada
"Smoker preference for elastic cigarettes in the Canadian cigarette market."

List of elastic and inelastic brands and chart of average sales per brand of elastic and inelastic brands of Canadian cigarettes, 1996.