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Greenwashing Cigarettes: Perceptual and Behavioral Evidence of Inaccurate Modified Risk Advertising

Principal Investigator: Meghan B. Moran and Matthew Johnson

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health - Grant

ID number: 1R01DA049814-01A1

Award Date: 5/22/2020

Institution: Johns Hopkins University


“Greenwashing” is an increasingly common tobacco marketing strategy in which products are portrayed as eco-friendly and/or natural. Greenwashing tactics may inaccurately convey modified product risk to consumers. The goal of this project is to describe how cigarette companies use greenwashing to market their products and test the effect of these tactics on young adult (ages 18-29) risk perceptions in an online sample and actual smoking behavior in a controlled laboratory study. Study aims are: (1) to identify specific greenwashing tactics used in cigarette ads, determine their prevalence across brands and sub-brands, and determine changes in these tactics over time; (2) to test the extent to which the greenwashing tactics identified in Aim 1 contribute to inaccurate modified risk perception in 1,500 young adults using an online survey; and (3) to test the effect of greenwashing on behavioral economic demand and smoking topography in a laboratory-controlled cigarette self-administration study of 35 young adults. Findings will provide new information about the connection of greenwashing strategies to product risk perceptions and actual smoking behavior and may inform future regulatory activities.
 

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