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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Which Cigarettes do Americans Think are Safer? A Population-based Analysis with Wave 1 of the PATH S

Friday, April 14, 2017  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Eric C Leas, John W Ayers, David R Strong, John P Pierce.
Which Cigarettes do Americans Think are Safer? A Population-based Analysis with Wave 1 of the PATH Study.
Tobacco Control 2017;26:e59-e60.
 
Although the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 (‘the Act’) essentially banned the terms ‘light’ and ‘mild’ in cigarette marketing, unregulated attributes may perpetuate the misconception that certain cigarettes are less harmful. To aid the discovery and regulation of attributes that lead to harm misconceptions, we used a nationally representative survey to first identify cigarette sub-brands that smokers believed were less harmful. This sample was composed of US adults who reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, currently smoking at least ‘some days’, reported their usual or last-smoked cigarette sub-brand and compared its harmfulness to other sub-brands in the 2013–2014 wave (wave 1) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health. Analysis was completed using the ‘restricted use file’ and was approved by the University of California, San Diego Institutional Review Board. Respondents selected their usual or last-smoked cigarette sub-brand from a series of drop-down menus and then were asked if their sub-brand ‘might be “less harmful”, “no different” or “more harmful” than other brands of cigarettes’. The proportion of smokers of each sub-brand who thought their brand might be ‘less harmful’ was reported. Analysis was restricted to sub-brands (including all sizes, eg, kings, 100s, etc) with at least 50 respondents, resulting in an unweighted sample size of n=8525 respondents who smoked 36 different sub-brands that represented 74% of the sub-brands used by respondents. Weighted frequencies, means and 95% CIs were calculated using the balanced repeated replication (BRR) method with Fay's adjustment (ρ=0.3) using R V.3.2.2. Eight per cent (95% CI 7% to 9%) of the respondents, who represented more than 2.5 million US smokers, thought their cigarette sub-brand might be ‘less harmful’ than other cigarettes. Of the 36 sub-brands analysed, 11 had ≥10% of their smokers reporting that the sub-brand might be ‘less harmful’. All of these cigarettes had been marketed with the terms ‘light’ or ‘mild’ prior to 2010 or were currently marketed with the terms ‘additive-free’ (American Spirit and Winston) or ‘natural’ (American Spirit). In contrast, none of the sub-brands that had ≤5% of their smokers reporting that the sub-brand might be ‘less harmful’ had ever been marketed with the terms ‘light,’ ‘mild,’ ‘additive-free’ or ‘natural’.

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