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Responses to reduced nicotine cigarette marketing features: a systematic review

Abstract

Objective To systematically review the literature regarding responses to commercial and public health marketing features for reduced nicotine cigarettes (RNCs) to anticipate potential industry and regulatory actions should an RNC product standard be issued.

Data sources We searched PubMed for English-language articles using several keywords for reduced nicotine products, cigarettes and marketing features published through 2020.

Study selection Of 4092 records, 26 studies were retained for review that met criteria focusing on responses to RNC marketing features.

Data extraction Search terms created by the research team were used for review and included independent extraction and coding by two reviewers. Coding was categorised using study design terminology, commercial and public health features in tobacco regulatory science, and their association with individual responses outlined by several message processing outcomes.

Data synthesis Most studies focused on current cigarette smokers and were cross-sectional. Reactions to RNCs and attitudes and beliefs were the most common outcomes measured. For commercial features, articles generally studied RNC advertisements, products and/or descriptors. For public health features, articles studied counter-messaging (eg, warning labels) or general descriptors about nicotine or a reduced nicotine product standard. Commercial features were generally associated with favourable responses. Public health features offset favourable responses across most outcomes, though their efficacy was mixed. Contrasts in results by smoking status are discussed.

Conclusions Commercial marketing of RNCs is appealing and may need stronger regulations or communication campaigns to accurately convey risks. Opportunities exist for future research within tobacco regulatory science.

  • nicotine
  • addiction
  • advertising and promotion
  • packaging and labelling
  • public policy

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