Myth: Contraband Cigarette Use Has No Impact on Cessation Behaviours

Aug 24, 2016

From: The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit

Busting Myths About Smoking Cessation

A Synthesis of Population-Level Findings from the Ontario Tobacco Survey

By Michael Chaiton, Lori Diemert, Bo Zhang, Susan Bondy


Contraband is any tobacco product that does not comply with federal and provincial laws, which includes importation, marking, manufacturing, stamping, and payment of duties and taxes. In 2005-2006, OTS research identified that more than 1 in 4 Ontario smokers had purchased cigarettes on First Nations reserves in the previous 6 months, with 12% of smokers usually purchasing their cigarettes on reserve. However, little is known about the impact these inexpensive contraband cigarettes have on smoking cessation behaviours. We analyzed the OTS longitudinal data to assess whether the use of contraband tobacco negatively affects smoking cessation outcomes. People who smoked contraband cigarettes were less likely to report a period of 30-day cessation during the subsequent 6 months (adjusted RR=0.23, 95% CI: 0.14, 0.61) and 1 year follow-up interviews (adjusted RR=0.30, 95% CI: 0.14, 0.61). There were no significant differences between those smoking contraband cigarettes and those smoking regular brands with respect to making quit attempts or long-term cessation (> 1-year). People who regularly smoked contraband cigarettes were less likely to quit for 30 days or more. Access to contraband tobacco may be undermining public health efforts at the population level.

Fact: Smokers using contraband cigarettes are less likely to successfully quit in the short-term.

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