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Open Access Real. Simple. Deadly. A Pilot Test of Consumer Harm Perceptions in Response to Natural American Spirit Advertising

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Objectives: In 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company entered into a settlement agreement restricting use of the terms "additive free" and "natural" in American Spirit ads. In 2017, American Spirit launched a new campaign using the tagline "Real. Simple. Different." featuring the text, "Tobacco Ingredients: Tobacco & Water." The purpose of this study is to compare the effect of the old and new advertising tactics on perceived harm. Methods: We randomized 482 US young adults recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk to view the old American Spirit ad messages, new American Spirit ad messages, or a control ad. Results: Participants who viewed an ad featuring the new "Real. Simple. Different." and "Tobacco & Water" phrases had a higher odds of perceiving the product as less harmful than other cigarettes (OR = 2.93) compared to a control ad, but a lower odds of perceiving reduced harm compared to an ad featuring the old phrases "Additive free. Natural." and "Tobacco & Water." Conclusions: Though an improvement on the old American Spirit ad, the tested new American Spirit ad still conveys inaccurate reduced harm to consumers.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 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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