Three More Findings from the FDA’s Tobacco Study

PATH study data on youth access, poly-use and reduced-harm products

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

cigarette smoker

CHICAGO -- Data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute of Health’s landmark Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) long-term tobacco use study was presented for the first time during this month’s Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Conference. While a lot of the data focused on electronic cigarettes, Cowen Group analyst Vivien Azer broke down three other interesting data points from the FDA’s presentation.

1. 75% of Minors Get Cigarettes from Social Sources: Perhaps the most important retailer takeaway from the PATH study was the reinforcement of the fact that minors are not getting their cigarettes from retailers, but from social sources. Of the 15- to 17-year-old smokers surveyed as part of the PATH study, 43% said they’d obtained cigarettes in the past 30 days from either asking someone or someone offering; 32% said they’d given someone else money to purchase cigarettes; just 14% said they’d bought cigarettes themselves.

2. 43% of Minors Reported Using Two or More Tobacco Products: “While cigarettes remain the largest segment in the tobacco category, the PATH study also examined closely the growing trend of poly-use among tobacco users,” Azer wrote in a research note. “Poly-use was slightly more common among youth, with 43% of 12- to 17-year-olds reporting they used at least two tobacco products.”

Cigarettes were the most used product, with 76% of adult and 71% of minor poly-users saying they use cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes were next (45% of adults and 54% of youths), followed by cigarillos (38% of adults, 46% of youths).

3. Only 3.1% of Non-Tobacco Consumers are Interested in Reduced-Harm Products: “Looking beyond e-cigs, the PATH survey also looked to evaluate the appeal of reduced-harm products,” wrote Azer. “Among current experimental and established smokers, more than half expressed interest in reduced-risk products, and more important, only 3.1% of nicotine naive consumers expressed such an interest.”

Specifically, 54.5% of current established smokers were interested in reduced-harm products, while 51.3% of current experimental smokers and 22% of consumers who had ever used tobacco expressed interest. For non-nicotine naive consumers, 25.8% of recent former smokers and 8.6% of long-term former smokers were attentive to reduced-harm products.