International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 423–430 | Cite as

Roll-your-own cigarette use in Italy: sales and consumer profile—data from PASSI surveillance, 2015–2016

  • Valentina Minardi
  • Gianluigi FerranteEmail author
  • Paolo D’Argenio
  • Maria Masocco
  • Lorenzo Spizzichino
  • Carla Bietta
  • Benedetta Contoli
  • Silvano Gallus
Original article



The use of roll-your-own (RYO) cigarette has substantially increased in most high-income countries recently. This work aims to update Italian trends on loose tobacco sales and to describe the consumer profile of predominant RYO users.


Data from the Italian Agency of Customs and State Monopolies and from PASSI (Italian behavioral risk factor surveillance system) were used. Information on 16,858 interviews to current smokers aged 18–69 was analyzed.


Sales of loose tobacco increased more than sevenfold between 2004 and 2017. In 2015–2016, 11.6% of smokers reported smoking predominantly RYO cigarettes, with higher percentages among the youngest where a significant association between use of RYO and education was observed, unlike what happened in older adults. The association between economic difficulties and use of RYO was observed only in older adults.


A growing trend in RYO cigarette sales was registered between 2004 and 2017. In young smokers, the greater use of RYO was observed among the most educated regardless of financial strain, while in older ones among those with economic difficulties.


Hand-rolled/RYO tobacco Taxation Surveillance and monitoring Public policy Price 



The authors thank the many PASSI regional referents and the regional and local coordinators who contributed to the data collection. A special thank goes to the health care workers in the public health departments in the LHUs, who conducted the interviews, and to Nancy Binkin for her precious support and editorial assistance.

Authors’ contribution

PD had the original idea of the work. VM performed the statistical analyses. SG, GF and MM wrote the manuscript. All authors contributed to critical review, editing and revision of manuscript draft and approval of the final version.


This work was supported by the Italian Ministry of Health/National Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CCM 2016 PROGRAMME—EXECUTIVE PROJECT TITLE: Support to the regions for maintenance and implementation of PASSI surveillance on behavioral risk factors related to the health of the Italian adult population). The work of Silvano Gallus was partially supported by the Italian League Against Cancer (Milan).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest to be declared.

Human participants and/or animals

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valentina Minardi
    • 1
  • Gianluigi Ferrante
    • 2
    Email author
  • Paolo D’Argenio
    • 3
  • Maria Masocco
    • 1
  • Lorenzo Spizzichino
    • 4
  • Carla Bietta
    • 5
  • Benedetta Contoli
    • 1
  • Silvano Gallus
    • 6
  1. 1.National Center for Disease Prevention and Health PromotionNational Institute of HealthRomeItaly
  2. 2.National Center for Drug Research and EvaluationNational Institute of Public HealthRomeItaly
  3. 3.RomeItaly
  4. 4.Center for Disease Prevention and ControlItalian Ministry of HealthRomeItaly
  5. 5.Local Health Unit 2 of Umbria, Prevention Department, Epidemiology UnitPerugiaItaly
  6. 6.Department of Environmental Health SciencesIRCCS – Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche “Mario Negri”MilanItaly

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