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UPenn/Rutgers TCORS Project 2: The Effects of Advertising and Correctives for Reduced Harm Tobacco Products

Principal Investigator(s): Joseph Nicholas Cappella

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health – TCORS Grant

ID number: 1 U54 CA229973-01

Award Date: 9/14/18

Institution: University of Pennsylvania

Misperceptions of the risks of potential modified risk tobacco products (MRTPs) can be exacerbated by product marketing. The goal of this project is to develop scientifically rigorous protocols to establish the magnitude and strength of inaccurate beliefs created by advertising and marketing practices for potential MRTPs in target audiences. The studies proposed in this project focus on advertising claims about combustible MRTPs and identifying the associated beliefs – both harms and benefits – in the minds of both likely users (smokers) and former smokers. Study aims are: (1) to understand the effects of advertising about potential MRTPs on product beliefs; (2) to assess the impact of potential MRTP ad content on beliefs about and attitudes and intentions toward MRTPs and examine whether false beliefs mediate the link between ad claims and attitudes/intentions; and (3) to design simple correctives to modify inaccurate inferences about potential MRTPs and assess their ability to change inaccurate (but not accurate) beliefs, redirect attention to corrective information, and affect MRTP use behavior.  Eight studies will address these three aims. To address Aim 1, researchers will monitor past and current requests to FDA for MRTP approval of combustible tobacco products (Study 1), track beliefs about MRTPs derived from online comments by members of the public (Study 2), conduct a descriptive pilot study with 1000 current and 1000 former smokers (ages 18 and older) to derive a set of targeted beliefs (Studies 3 and 4), and conduct a study to determine whether ad content can encourage beliefs in one direction or another (Study 5). To address Aim 2, researchers will evaluate beliefs of 1500 participants (ages 18 and older) using standardized assessment tools to determine whether beliefs mediate between advertising claims and attitudes and use intentions (Study 6). To address Aim 3, researchers will conduct two studies in current daily smokers (ages 21-60); an eye tracking study (Study 7) as well as behavioral tests of MRTP use in the presence and absence of corrective statements (Study 8). Findings may inform future regulatory activities related to potential MRTP advertising.  

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