Research type 
Year of report 

Summary of findings


Conclusions Affirming the dangerous status of HRT is likely to make HRT smokers contemplate quitting. • Debunking myths around the ‘natural’ status of HRT captures attention and is very specific to HRT usage – ensures HRT smokers are not ‘off the hook’ • all believe that rolling tobacco is a natural and healthier alternative to manufactured cigarettes, therefore facts around content and growing methods have real impact and start to make smokers think • this is an area where hard facts/statistics will need to be presented to ensure credibility (as natural associations are so ingrained) The most motivating messages were as follows: - ‘Your tobacco is just as harmful – grown in the same place, processed by the same company’ - ‘The smoke you inhale from HRT contains.....’ - ‘Scientific research has found significant levels of toxic chemicals even in pure additive free tobacco’ Cost alone is not motivating, unless used in conjunction with another territory • Overall reactions to this area are polarised based on amount of tobacco smoked and income level of smoker • those that smoke heavily and have lower incomes are initially motivated by savings – a tangible benefit of quitting (esp. in current climate) • teens are also more interested as have low disposable income • However, on reflection most don’t believe there are substantial savings to be made • even those smoking heavily tend to be spending less than £40 per month (including papers and filters), and many are purchasing illicitly • those who have migrated from manufactured cigarettes believe they have made a positive choice and are already saving • NRT in comparison is felt to be an expensive option • But talking about savings on a household level may be more motivating • Overall, cost is only motivating when linked to another proposition area (e.g. health) • in this instance including references to cost make the messaging HRT specific The most motivating messages were as follows: ‘A cheaper way to die’ ‘Earn an extra £100 a month, no work required, just quit the fags’ Repositioning the Ritual of HRT • All admit that rolling up can be inconvenient at times (especially for heavier smokers) • in fact inconvenience is cited as the key disadvantage of using HRT • However, smoking in general is considered inconvenient since Smokefree legislation has come into force • However, rolling tobacco smokers do not necessarily feel that they are missing out when rolling up • in most cases time taken to roll up is 2-5 secs • some women (who are pre-rolling) take longer but consider it relaxing, even therapeutic The most motivating messages are as follows: ‘Another bad habit for your child to copy’ ‘One of the most dangerous substances you will ever handle, 1 in 2 tobacco smokers dies as a result’ ‘Imagine never having to roll another one again, wouldn’t life be easier’ If linked to Dangerous Substances and/or Appearance areas, then this territory has potential to motivate • If linked to Dangerous Substances.... • position the ritual of rolling up as similar to other addictions which are perceived to be ‘more serious’, ‘dirtier’ and less socially acceptable e.g. heroin usage • There may be scope to counter the perceived benefits of rolling up (e.g. relaxation, stress relief) by talking about what the actual toxins are doing to the smokers’ body? • (N.B. HRT smokers only admit that they are addicted to smoking rather than rolling up too, but their attitudes and behaviours contradict this) • If linked to Appearance.... • there is scope to talk more about the physical downsides of handling tobacco e.g. smelly hands, yellow fingers (toxins going into skin) • there is also potential to visually depict dirtiness of habit • Finally, it may be more powerful and motivating to focus on quitting as freedom from the addiction/ritual of rolling • smoker’s day would no longer be ‘controlled’ by rolling up/smoking Appearance is a motivating reason to quit for female smokers (although more generic): • Women are concerned about ageing and the impact of smoking on their looks • in terms of appearance more concerned about yellow fingers and teeth rather than wrinkles, pallid skin and bags under eyes • however, smell (on breath, clothes etc.) is an even greater concern, although they believe HRT is less smelly vs. manufactured cigarettes • Reducing attractiveness is more impactful for those who are single or have a non/ex-smoker as a partner • some admit that when they have quit in the past, they rejected their partner at some point due to smell • In addition, roll-ups not considered elegant/feminine • some are embarrassed smoking roll-ups in public, although some new entry brands (e.g. B&H Silver even American Spirit) were perceived to be cooler amongst young people and women • Finally, some men (those who tend to engage in fitness and more physical jobs) also worry about how they look in front of male friends/colleagues when out of breath (due to smoking) The most motivating messages are as follows: ‘You might think it tastes better, but it doesn’t to your partner’ ‘Rolling up isn't pretty ’ Switch to NRT(Nicotine Replacement Therapy) This territory receives polarised responses: • Not all believe that NRT is the right way to quit • many R&M smokers believe that ‘cold turkey’ is the best approach – ‘you should give up nicotine completely not switch to something else’ • indeed, there exists confusion and lack of understanding re. NRT • In addition, smokers also worry whether NRT is truly effective, particularly since it can be considered an expensive option • Therefore need to provide evidence of effectiveness and more information generally to convince smokers • greater interest in inhalators as gives you something to do with hands (important for HRT users as they need to tackle addiction of rolling up as well as smoking) • interestingly, a minority of parents say that teens are using inhalators in schools • However, those that have used NRT previously are quite positive • believe it takes away/minimises the need for cigarettes, which is encouraging for those who want to quit and haven’t used NRT The most motivating messages are as follows: ‘why not swap your tobacco for another safe type of nicotine? You can get it in gum, patches, drinks, inhalators etc’ ‘Get the nicotine fix without the cancer causing chemicals ’

Research objectives


PRIMARY RESEARCH OBJECTIVES • Explore perceptions of HRT in terms of language, imagery and associations (vs. manufactured cigarettes) • Explore usage of HRT in terms of reasons for usage, benefits/drawbacks, brands used, rituals and habits (vs. manufactured cigarettes) SECONDARY RESEARCH OBJECTIVES • Evaluate and develop possible proposition areas • Identify any that have the potential to prompt HRT users to stop smoking (rather than revert to using manufactured cigarettes)



Smokefree South West was launched in 2009. Its stated aims are to work with key partners at a local, regional and national level essentially to reduce the prevalence and uptake of smoking. There are around one million people who smoke in the South West and smoking accounts for 9,000 premature deaths a year. Nationally, an estimated 1 in 4 smokers (35% of male smokers) smoke ‘mainly’ hand rolled cigarettes. The incidence of using hand rolled tobacco (HRT) has been increasing since 2003; it is believed that the primary reason for this is price, which has been heightened by the recession. HRT bought legitimately is cheaper than buying manufactured cigarettes, moreover research in other regions has identified that much HRT sold is illegitimate, which makes the product cheaper still. Although HRT data in the South West was not available at the time of the research, there is no reason to believe that incidence will be lower than the national average, and a number of reasons to believe it may be higher: poor populations, rural populations, and a high percentage of younger smokers.

Quick summary


Smokefree South West commissioned research to explore smokers’ experience of and beliefs about using hand rolled tobacco (HRT), in order to identify a strategy to undermine HRT use and prompt quit attempts. A number of potential message territories were explored.

Audience Summary








Young people aged 14-18, Adults 20-45

Social Class


Mainly C2DE




- Paired depths – Young People (x8) - Focus Groups – R&M HRT Smokers (x8), manufactured cigarette smokers (x2)

Data collection methodology

Depth interviews
Focus groups

Detailed region


South West England: Bournemouth, Bridport, Bristol, Camborne/Redruth, Plymouth, Salisbury

Fieldwork dates


March 2010

Contact Name

Helen Selby



Senior Research Manager

Agree to publish



Research agency


COI Number


Report format