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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

“Reduced-harm” cigarette advertising as a human rights violation: A Protection Motivation Theory approach

Stacey J. Anderson, PhD, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, 530 Parnassus Avenue, Box 1390, San Francisco, CA 94143-1390, 415-502-4181, stacey.anderson@ucsf.edu

OBJECTIVE: To use a Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) framework to analyse tobacco industry advertising of low-tar and ostensibly harm-reduced cigarettes to health-concerned smokers.

BACKGROUND: PMT describes adaptive and maladaptive coping with a health threat as a result of two appraisal processes: threat appraisal and coping appraisal. Low-tar cigarettes, and more recently Potential Reduced Exposure Products (PREPs), were introduced in an environment of concern about the health risks of smoking and of secondhand smoking.

METHODS: Analysis of previously secret tobacco industry documents and cigarette advertising collections.

RESULTS: Low-tar cigarette advertising was designed to 1) distract smokers from concerns about the health risks of smoking, 2) allay smokers' fears about health risks, and 3) convince smokers that low-tar cigarettes were a technological breakthrough that represented a proactive measure to take for one's health. PREPs are currently being marketed in a parallel fashion, with the additonal component that PREPs are a proactive measure to take for those concerned about the risks of secondhand smoke.

CONCLUSIONS: Health-concerned smokers gravitate toward “reduced-harm” cigarettes through a motivation to protect themselves from health risks. “Reduced-harm” cigarette advertising provides misleading information to consumers attempting to make threat appraisals, downplays the severity of risks, and falsely promotes the efficacy of smoking these products as a mechanism for coping with the health threats of smoking. Providing misleading information with the goal of encouraging maladaptive coping in people motivated to protect themselves from health threats constitutes a violation of the human right to pursue health.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Risk Communication, Tobacco Industry

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Emerging Information on Tobacco Product Content Poster Session

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA