BOX 3–4
British American Tobacco Memo Describing Use of Low-Yield Products by Smokers Trying to Quit

“Smokers needed light brands for tangible, practical, understandable reasons” [emphasis in original]. “It is useful to consider lights more as a third alternative to quitting and cutting down—a branded hybrid of smokers’ unsuccessful attempts to modify their habit on their own.”

SOURCE: 081, PSC 60.

cigarettes, even though evidence does not support such a conclusion. Menthol and additive-free cigarettes, which likely pose as much risk, respectively, as nonmenthol and additive-containing cigarettes, also seem to be perceived as somewhat safer. The committee concludes that smokers could overestimate any potential benefits of PREPs, although it is possible that the factors that influence perceptions of traditional tobacco products might not apply to radically different products such as PREPs. In addition, PREP users might be very different from the average smoker.

The committee recommends that smokers be informed at every opportunity that all tobacco products, including modified tobacco PREPs and cigarette-like PREPs, are toxic and poisonous. Health-related statements about PREPs should be accurate and made directly, unaccompanied by terms that imply safety in an oblique manner. It is likely that strategic use of visual images and textual themes of safety would promote harm reduction. Research should be conducted to explore the optimal mix of images and text in communications. In addition, research should be conducted to determine if varying the relative attractiveness of product packaging across product types (i.e., conventional tobacco products, tobacco-related PREPs, and pharmaceutical PREPs) will influence perceptions and behaviors in a health-promoting way.

Future research in this area should be conducted to assess factors that influence perceptions of risk in order to ensure that communications about PREPs—whether made by manufacturers or by health educators—take into account a PREP user’s perceptions regarding the risks of conventional tobacco and the potential benefit of using PREPs. The magnitude of misleading optimism bias for each PREP or type of PREP must be known to estimate the use of conventional tobacco and PREPs and, therefore, the possibilities for harm reduction.

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