Project 4: Examining product descriptors in Natural American Spirit Cigarette marketing

Project Details


Project Summary/Abstract Extensive research has confirmed that cigarettes marketed as “light,” “low tar,” and “mild” were misperceived as having lower risks and in recognition of this, the 2009 Tobacco Control Act (TCA) banned the use of these descriptors in one of its earliest regulatory actions, but did not address other misleading terms that studies have shown also suggest reduced harm for products utilizing them. One of these products is Natural American Spirit (NAS), a heavily advertised and top selling premium cigarette brand popular among young adults that promotes itself to consumers using the terms “additive free,” “natural,” and “organic.” The FDA has taken steps to stop NAS from using the misleading product descriptors “natural” and “additive-free” but the issue remains unsettled. The proposed research project aims to provide additional scientific evidence on the terms “natural,” “additive-free,” and “organic,” use of the claim “natural” as part of the brand name, and the use of written claims that may imply the product is “natural” and “additive-free” (e.g., “ingredients: tobacco and water”). Specifically, we aim to 1) understand consumer perceptions of the NAS brand name, descriptors (e.g, “organic”, “Tobacco Ingredients: Tobacco and Water”), and imagery in NAS advertising by conducting twelve focus groups with young adult (ages 18-24) smokers and nonsmokers, 2) assess the effect of such descriptors in print advertising on cigarette risk perceptions and use intentions among 2400 young adult (18-24) smokers and non-smokers using a between-subjects online experiment, and 3) examine population differences in tobacco perceptions, use intentions, and use between NAS and other brand (OB) smokers, comparing them over time via longitudinal analysis of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) survey study. Lastly, a secondary aim will be to monitor claims and images used in NAS cigarette advertising with a longitudinal content analysis of NAS print and direct mail advertising using data from our TCORS Tobacco Industry Marketing Core. Overall, this research will fit under the UPENN/Rutgers TCORS Integrative Theme of marketing, advertising and packaging of combusted tobacco products, and will directly address the FDA Center for Tobacco Products Scientific Domains of Marketing Influences and Behavior. The findings from this study will build and advance the evidence base on the impact of misleading terms implying reduced risk to assist the FDA in overcoming legal challenges and/or expanding restrictions on descriptors. By providing research on consumers' meanings and attitudes towards these claims, our findings may also inform tobacco control counter-marketing efforts aimed at reducing their influence.
Effective start/end date7/1/188/31/23


  • National Cancer Institute: $395,967.00


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