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Cigarette and smokeless tobacco company smartphone applications
  1. Mario Antonio Navarro,
  2. Erin Keely O’Brien,
  3. Leah Hoffman
  1. Center for Tobacco Products, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr. Mario Antonio Navarro, Center for Tobacco Products, Silver Spring, MD 20993, USA; mario.navarro{at}


Purpose Two previous studies indicate that prosmoking apps might encourage smoking behaviour via smoking cues. The current paper seeks to build on these studies and provide an updated overview of the characteristics of tobacco industry-sponsored apps.

Methods In November 2017, we identified 19 unique top-selling cigarette brands, 20 smokeless tobacco brands, 30 e-cigarette brands and 43 cigar brands based on Nielsen sales from 2016 Nielsen Scantrack data and 2016 Kantar advertising data from the Kantar Media Stradegy database. We searched for these brand-sponsored apps in the Google Play and Apple iTunes US online stores.

Results We identified four cigarette and one smokeless tobacco brand-sponsored apps on the Google Play store, but none in the Apple store. The apps sponsored by Grizzly, Newport, Skoal, Camel and Winston used the last four digits of the users’ social security number to verify age. The Marlboro app offered another option in addition to providing a partial social security number—providing a valid home address. The main feature of all apps was location-based, time-sensitive coupons. Some apps had additional functions such as additional detailed product information, interactive help menus and games.

Discussion This paper provides an up-to-date description of apps that are sponsored by tobacco companies. Cessation interventions could consider reminding their target audience to delete these apps to support quit attempts.

  • tobacco industry
  • advertising and promotion
  • media

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  • Contributors MAN, EKO and LH have all contributed to the development of the study, the implementation of the study and the writing of the manuscript.

  • Funding Publication of this article was supported by the US Food andDrug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products. No funding was providedspecifically for conducting the analysis, drafting the manuscript, orsubmitting this paper for publication.

  • Disclaimer This publication represents the views of the author(s) and does not represent FDA/CTP position or policy. The conclusions drawn from the Nielsen data are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of Nielsen. Nielsen is not responsible for and had no role in and was not involved in analysing and preparing the results reported here.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The data are provided upon request from the authors of this manuscript.