Exploring the microbial diversity and composition of three cigar product categories
Cigars and cigarillos are emerging as popular tobacco alternatives to cigarettes. However, these products may be associated with similar adverse health effects. We used environmental DNA (eDNA) sequencing to extensively characterize the microbial diversity of cigar and cigarillo products and investigate differences in microbial composition across 23 different product types. Our findings showed the three categories of cigars (large, filtered, and cigarillos) differed significantly in observed richness and Shannon diversity, with filtered cigars exhibiting lower diversity measures compared to large cigars and cigarillos. We also found a shared and unique microbiota among different product types. Firmicute was the most abundant phyla in all product categories, followed by Actinobacteria. Nine genera were exclusively shared by large cigars and cigarillos and an additional thirteen genera were exclusive to filtered cigars. Analysis of individual cigar products showed consistent microbial composition across replicates for most large cigars and cigarillos while filtered cigars showed more inter-product variability. These findings provide important insights into the microbial diversity of cigar and cigarillo products, which can inform the development of more effective tobacco control policies and public health interventions.