Can Corrective Ad Statements Based on U.S. v. Philip Morris USA Inc. Impact Consumer Beliefs about Smoking?
To comply with the court’s ruling in U.S. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., tobacco companies must fund a large advertising campaign to “correct” smoking beliefs about which consumers may have been misled as a result of past deceptive practices of tobacco companies. The authors use an ad copy experiment to examine (1) the effects of different versions of corrective ad statements that plaintiff intervenors submitted to the court on multi-item belief measures and (2) the impact of the ad versions and beliefs on general attitudes toward smoking across current adult smokers and nonsmokers. The tested ad versions include a copy-only control condition, a copy-with-graphic-visual condition, and a version with a potentially distracting visual. The results indicate that the corrective statements in advertisements can have a positive effect on antismoking beliefs of focal interest in the case and that the test advertisements affect some beliefs more strongly than others. The authors discuss potential policy implications and limitations and provide suggestions for further research.