Majority of Natural American Spirit smokers believe brand is less harmful
Natural American Spirit cigarette packs stand out on a shelf, and not just because of their brightly colored packaging. It is the only major cigarette brand that makes the claims “natural,” “organic” and “additive-free.”
Researchers at the Schroeder Institute® for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative found that nearly 64 percent of Natural American Spirit smokers inaccurately believe the cigarettes are less harmful than other brands. That compares to 8.3 percent of smokers of other brands. Put another way, Natural American Spirit smokers are over 22 times more likely than other smokers to believe their brand is less harmful, despite the fact that there is no evidence that they are any safer.
The study, published in Tobacco Control, found that 2.3 percent (920,000) of U.S. adult smokers reported Natural American Spirit as their usual brand. That may not sound like a lot, but the brand, produced by Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company and owned by RJ Reynolds, is growing fast. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, use of Natural American Spirit cigarettes grew 554 percent between 2002 to 2013 among all age groups.
The new research found that compared to smokers of other cigarette brands, the typical Natural American Spirit smoker:
- is younger (between 18 and 34);
- frequently thinks about the harms of his or her tobacco use;
- has used alcohol and/or marijuana in the past 30 days; and
- is more likely to identify as LGBT
This study confirmed the findings of earlier research from Truth Initiative® on the influence the packs have on consumers. A paper published in May 2016 showed that 50 to 60 percent of U.S. adults viewed Natural American Spirit cigarettes as less harmful than a comparison pack of Marlboro Red cigarettes.
“Misperceptions about the harms of cigarettes may encourage smokers to switch brands rather than quit smoking entirely, or may increase intent to try the product,” said Dr. Jennifer Pearson, research investigator at the Schroeder Institute and lead author on the study. “Given Natural American Spirit’s rapid growth, the FDA needs to enforce the law to ensure Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company and RJ Reynolds can no longer mislead consumers about the safety of their product.”
These studies provide further evidence of the need for FDA action on Natural American Spirit's misleading cigarette packaging.
The typical Natural American Spirit smoker is younger (18 - 34).
The typical Natural American Spirit smoker has used alcohol and/or marijuana in the past 30 days.
The typical Natural American Spirit smoker is more likely to identify as LGBT.