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This study seeks to update and expand our understanding of the perceptions and purchasing patterns of smokers of single cigarettes (‘loosies’) in disadvantaged urban areas. Semi-structured guides were used in thirteen focus groups with 67 self-identified adult smokers from the South Bronx section of New York City in summer 2013. There is wideavailability ofsingle cigarettes inthe South Bronx, withlegitimate stores overwhelmingly being the preferred venue for purchases. Single cigarettes are sold at higher per-unit prices than illicit packs. However, buyers of single cigarettes can achieve cost savings compared to legal, fully taxed cigarette packs. Apart from cost-savings, smokers opt for single cigarettes to reduce their personal cigarette consumption. There is a general perception of market resilience despite law enforcement intervention. However, law enforcement has a limiting effect on access to single cigarettes outside of an individual smoker's immediate neighborhood. The findings suggest that single cigarette sales are an important element of the illicit cigarette market in disadvantaged communities which should not be ignored in future research on the nature and extent of cigarette tax avoidance and evasion.


This article was originally published in Preventive Medicine Reports, available at DOI: 10.1016/jpmedr.2018.09.016.

This is an open access article under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND) license (

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