Knowledge generation, synthesis and translation is one of the three pillars of IGTC's operating framework. Since its inception, the institute has been actively involved in the generation of scientific evidence to support to the development of strong tobacco control policies around the world. The MPOWER policy package frames the range of focus areas in which we engage, including research on tobacco product advertising and health warning label effectiveness. Examples of three such projects are provided below:
Flavored Cigarettes Common Near Schools in Five Cities in Latin America
While total cigarette sales are declining in Latin America, sales of flavored products are increasing in the region. This study, in response to a request from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), involved observations of cigarette retailers within a radius of 100-250 meters around schools in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. Key findings included: (1) among the 825 cigarette retailers identified in the sampling areas, 85% (n=703) sold cigarettes with menthol or other flavor descriptors; (2) cigarettes with menthol or other flavor descriptors were most frequently placed in the cashier zone (72%, n=512), followed by placement near sweets, snacks, or sugary drinks (59%, n=416); and (3) mint or menthol was the most frequently observed descriptor, followed by non-conventional flavor descriptors. Bloomberg School of Public Health MHS graduate Caitlin Weiger presented the findings at the 5th Latin American and Caribbean Conference on Tobacco or Health in Montevideo, Uruguay. The release of our technical report and a press brief coordinated by CTFK garnered coverage in local news outlets and blog posts, including CNN Chile.
Influence and Appeal of Marlboro's Brand Architecture 2.0 Among Filipino Adolescents
Tobacco companies are increasingly focusing their marketing efforts to recruit youth smokers in emerging markets. This mixed-methods study employed a self-administered survey and series of six focus groups to evaluate the influence and appeal of Marlboro’s global rebranding effort, Architecture 2.0, among Filipino youth. A total of 626 boys and girls, ages 13 to 17 years old, residing in Metro Manila participated in the survey. Compared to the leading local cigarette brand, Mighty, participants rated Marlboro advertisements as more identifiable, likeable, and effective; and more favorable ratings were associated with greater intention to smoke, particularly among youth who had never smoked. Marlboro was distinctly appealing among the six focus groups as well, who described the ads as appealing to young people, and promoting “adventure” and “freedom” whereas the Mighty brand was perceived as being for adults and current smokers. The results support concerns regarding the influence of Marlboro advertising, particularly in emerging markets.
China Health Warning Labels
Health warning labels on cigarettes in China are currently required to occupy 30% of the front and back of packs; the warnings are only text (no pictures) and the text is not differentiated from the rest of the pack. We conducted an experimental study among Chinese adults to evaluate various health warnings on cigarette packages, including various pictorial strategies (i.e., graphic, human suffering, quality of life) within different textual styles (i.e., didactic vs. personal messages conveying both individual health impacts and familial or community impacts), and further exploring which agency or individual might improve the credibility of health warnings (e.g., the China CDC, WHO, etc.).
The project took into account possible cultural uniqueness in how Chinese smokers and nonsmokers react to health warning messages. The study found that images conveying harm to others as a result of smoking were more effective than those portraying self-harm. Images that portrayed health effects of the lungs were considered most credible or effective.