Abstract Background Cigarette rod length as a design feature may play a specific role in harm perception and tobacco use. Internal tobacco industry documents have shown targeting of females with long/ultra-long cigarettes. This study assessed trends and differences in smoking of long/ultra-long cigarettes among U.S. smokers aged ≥20 years during 1999 through 2012. Methods Data were obtained from the 1999/2000 through 2011/2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The proportion of current smokers who reported using long/ultra-long cigarettes during each survey year was calculated and compared using χ2 statistics. Linear and quadratic trends during 1999 through 2012 were assessed using binary logistic regression (p<0.05). Multi-variable analyses were performed to assess current disparities in smoking of long/ultra-long cigarettes. Results Despite overall declines in current smoking of long/ultra-long cigarettes during the 1999 through 2012 period (p<0.001 for both linear and quadratic trends), the proportion of smokers of long/ultra-long brands increased in recent years, with over a third (38.7%) of current smokers reporting smoking of long/ultra-long cigarettes during 2011/2012. Current smokers of long/ultra-long cigarettes were more likely to be female compared to males (aOR=3.09; 95%CI: 2.09–4.58), of black race compared to whites (aOR=2.07; 95%CI: 1.30–3.28), or aged 45–64, or ≥65 years (aOR=2.39 and 5.27, respectively), compared to 18–24 year olds. Conclusions Specific gender, age and race/ethnic characteristics of smokers of long/ultra-long cigarettes were noted, hence potentially contributing to the widening of health disparities. Cigarette rod length should be considered an important aspect of cigarette engineering/design in regulatory efforts to reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease.