Flavor capsule cigarettes are rapidly gaining global market share, particularly in Latin America. This paper compares profiles and perceptions of smokers who prefer flavor capsule cigarettes and those who do not in Mexico.
We analyzed data from six online surveys of adult Mexican smokers (n=4488) from 2018-2020. Participants identified their preferred brand variety characteristics (no capsule; one capsule; two capsules), and reported perceptions of their brand varieties’ flavor, smoothness, harmfulness, and whether they smoke to control their appetite. Separate multinomial logistic models regressed preferred cigarette type on sociodemographic and smoking-related variables, as well as perceived benefits on preferred cigarette type, adjusting for covariates.
Most participants preferred capsule cigarettes (single capsule=47.5%; double capsule=12.9%). Flavor capsule users reported that their preferred varieties mostly tasted like menthol/mint (59% of single capsule users and 23% of double capsule users), cucumber (12% and 27%, respectively) or berries (10% and 22%, respectively). Females were more likely than males to prefer either single or double capsule cigarettes (AOR=2.26 and 2.01, respectively). Preference for flavor capsules was also higher among younger smokers, e-cigarette users, those who smoke less frequently, and those who recently tried or plan to quit. Smokers who preferred capsules were more likely than non-capsule smokers to perceive their cigarettes as smoother, less harmful, and to smoke to control their appetite.
The high prevalence of capsule use and widespread perceptions of the benefits of capsules over traditional cigarettes may help explain why tobacco control policies have not reduced smoking prevalence in Mexico.