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Open Access Restricting "Natural" and "Additive-free": Did FDA's Agreement with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Change Advertising for Natural American Spirit?

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Objectives: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company reached an agreement in January 2017 to remove "additive-free" and "natural" from Natural American Spirit (NAS) marketing because these terms led consumers to perceive reduced harm inaccurately. This study sought to update previous research by examining brand marketing following these restrictions. Methods: A content analysis was conducted on 244 ads from 2015-2018. Two coders coded text descriptors, references, and imagery that implied or referenced natural or environmental qualities, and American Indian symbols. Results: From 2015-2018, NAS used descriptors that could imply a natural product, including "organic," "tobacco and water," and "whole leaf." Imagery included natural images such as plants (79.5%), farms (60.7%), or wood (85.2%). Most ads contained American Indian imagery (90.6%). There were 20 apparent violations of the FDA agreement restricting "natural" and "additive-free" in the 3 months after it went into effect (September-November 2017). Conclusions: Although "natural" and "additive-free" were eliminated from marketing in 2017, NAS relied on a variety of other descriptors and images that could imply a natural product. Research should examine whether these tactics similarly convey inaccurate reduced harm to consumers.
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Keywords: AMERICAN INDIAN IMAGERY; FDA REGULATION; HARM PERCEPTION; NATURAL AMERICAN SPIRIT; TOBACCO INDUSTRY MARKETING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2019

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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