Researchers examine the claims behind the use of cigarillos.

Known by a variety of names, “hyping,” “champing” and “freaking” a cigarillo — a smaller, leaner type of cigar — is believed by many to significantly reduce the amount of cancer-causing properties associated with tobacco products. “Hyping” a cigarillo means modifying the product by removing an inner layer of tobacco. Some people who modify their cigarillos believe this liner to be the “cancer paper,” and that removing it makes it safer to smoke.

“To this day, we don’t know where this idea came from that this is a ‘cancer paper'” said Melissa Blank, assistant professor in the West Virginia University Department of Psychology. “Nobody has been able to find anything in the literature about the origins of this practice.”

While researchers continue to look for the root of the practice, Blank, along with Drs. Aashir Nasim, Caroline Cobb and Thomas Eissenberg at Virginia Commonwealth University, examined other claims of the practice, including exposure to carbon monoxide and nicotine.

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