Centre for Behavioural
Research in Cancer

Consumer warnings to counter tobacco reassurance marketing

Reassurance marketing promotes particular tobacco product attributes, brand variants or sensory experiences that mislead smokers into believing these offer reduced harm; in fact, they offer only the illusion of protection. This form of marketing has become increasingly important with increasing restrictions on promotion of tobacco through the media, at point-of-sale, and on packaging. Examples include an explosion of descriptive variant names (‘smooth’ taste) on packs, cigarette filters that vary in appearance or taste, and more vigorous promotion of filter-venting and ‘natural’ roll-your-own tobacco. To limit the impact of these aggressive marketing strategies on smokers’ motivation to quit, this project will create a set of salient corrective messages on packs that explain why these specific product attributes do not reduce the likelihood of disease (Product Attribute HWs). In three linked studies, this project will test the efficacy of Product Attribute HWs compared to standard HWs, and also test whether a television advertisement increases the effectiveness of Product Attribute HWs. This study will be the first to systematically test Product Attribute HWs on tobacco packs and will strengthen the evidence base on how the full potential of pack HWs can be realised.

CBRC staff

Prof Melanie Wakefield, A/Prof Sarah Durkin, Dr Emily Brennan, Dr Michelle Scollo, Prof David Hill


A/Prof James Thrasher (University of South Carolina, USA), Prof Janet Hoek (University of Otago, NZ), Prof Neal Benowitz (University of California San Francisco, USA), Prof Jonathan Samet (University of Colorado Denver, USA), Prof Dorothy Hatsukami (University of Minnesota, USA), Rebecca Cook (Media and Communications, Cancer Council Victoria), Prof Michael Daube (Curtin University, Western Australia)


NHMRC Project grant (1142981)


2018 - present