Natural American Spirit's pro-environment packaging and perceptions of reduced-harm cigarettes

5 August, 2019

When I was in the USA a few years ago I had a drink with someone who was smoking Natural American Spirit cigarettes. He believed (wrongly) that this brand was less harmful to his health than other brands, doubtless deceived by the name ('Natural...').

This new paper shows how the manufacturer has gone one step further by linking the brand with a pro-environment marketing campaign. It is lamentable that the US regulatory bodies are allowing this. I would be interested to hear of deceptive marketing by other cigarette manufacturers. It is not so long ago (1950s) that Camel cigarette advertisements featured a smoking doctr with the words "More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!"

CITATION: Prev Med. 2019 Jul 17:105782. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105782. [Epub ahead of print]

Natural American Spirit's pro-environment packaging and perceptions of reduced-harm cigarettes.

Epperson AE1, Lambin EF2, Henriksen L1, Baiocchi M1, Flora JA3, Prochaska JJ4.

ABSTRACT

Natural American Spirit (NAS) cigarettes feature a pro-environment marketing campaign on the packs. The NAS "Respect for the Earth" campaign is the first example of on-the-pack corporate social responsibility advertising. In a randomized survey design, we tested perceptions of NAS relative to other cigarette brands on harms to self, others, and the environment. Never (n = 421), former (n = 135), and current (n = 358) US adult smokers were recruited for an online survey from January through March 2018. All participants viewed packs of both NAS and Pall Mall. Participants were randomized to view NAS vs. Pall Mall and to pack color (blue, green, or yellow/orange), which was matched between brands. Survey items assessed perceptions of health risk of the cigarette brand to self, others, and the environment and perceptions of the manufacturer. Consistently on all measures, NAS cigarettes were rated as less harmful for oneself, others, and the environment relative to Pall Mall (p's < .001). Though Reynolds American manufactures both brands, participants rated the company behind NAS as more socially responsible than the company behind Pall Mall, F[1, 909] = 110.25, p < .001. The NAS advantage was significant irrespective of smoking status, pack color, and brand order, with findings stronger for current than never smokers. Pro-environmental marketing on NAS cigarette packs contributes to misperceptions that the product is safer for people and the environment than other cigarettes and made by a company that is more socially responsible. Stricter government regulations on the use of pro-environment terms in marketing that imply modified risk is needed.

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Indeed, the Truth in Advertising website notes: 'The Reynolds American-owned Santa Fe Tobacco Company is facing a class-action lawsuit filed in September that alleges the company is deceptively marketing the cigarettes as natural, additive free, organic, and unadulterated tobacco products when there is no adequate scientific evidence to support such claims.' https://www.truthinadvertising.org/natural-american-spirit/

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children

http://www.hifa.org/projects/citizens-parents-and-children

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org