View of a green sign on a chain link fence that reads "tobacco free zone" in white letters, photo credit iStock / Allkindza
Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science

About Us

With the most recent TCORS grant, Annenberg School researchers are looking at how advertising, packaging, and labeling influence people to use tobacco products.

In 2018, an inter-agency partnership between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded a five-year grant to the Penn-Rutgers Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS). TCORS grants support research informing the regulation of tobacco products. Science from the TCORS program helps inform and assess FDA's prior, ongoing, and potential regulatory activities and responds to FDA's research needs in today's rapidly evolving tobacco marketplace.

The grant to Penn-Rutgers TCORS funded four studies, and the Annenberg School is the site of one of these projects. Led by Joseph Cappella, Ph.D., it is entitled “Examining the Effects of Advertising, Packaging and Labeling on Perceptions, Use and Exposure of Combustible Tobacco Products" and examines the effects of advertising and correctives for reduced harm tobacco products.

Misperceptions of the risks of potential modified risk tobacco products (MRTPs) can be exacerbated by product marketing. The goal of this project is to develop scientifically rigorous protocols to establish the magnitude and strength of inaccurate beliefs created by advertising and marketing practices for potential MRTPs in target audiences.

The studies proposed in this project focus on advertising claims about combustible MRTPs and identifying the associated beliefs – both harms and benefits – in the minds of both likely users (smokers) and former smokers. Study aims are:

  • To understand the effects of advertising about potential MRTPs on product beliefs;
  • To assess the impact of potential MRTP ad content on beliefs about and attitudes and intentions toward MRTPs and examine whether false beliefs mediate the link between ad claims and attitudes/intentions; and
  • To design simple correctives to modify inaccurate inferences about potential MRTPs and assess their ability to change inaccurate (but not accurate) beliefs, redirect attention to corrective information, and affect MRTP use behavior. 

Penn-Rutgers TCORS

There are 3 additional projects in the Penn-Rutgers TCORS:

  1. Andrew Strasser, Ph.D., Research Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine and a secondary faculty member at Annenberg, leads the project “The Effects of Cigarette Package Color on Smoking Behavior, Exposure and Risk Perception when using Low Nicotine Content Cigarettes.”
  2. Cristine D. Delnevo, Ph.D., M.P.H, F.A.A.H.B., & Olivia Wackowski, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor and Associate Professor at the Rutgers University School of Public Health, lead the project “Influence of Cigarillo Packaging and Labeling on Young Adults.
  3. Jane Lewis, Dr.P.H., Associate Professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health, leads the project “Examining Product Descriptors in Natural American Spirit Cigarette Marketing.


Photo Credit (top image): iStock / Allkindza