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Cigarette and smokeless tobacco company smartphone applications

Abstract

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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