Misleading information created by tobacco industry
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Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey
Health Institute Association, Turkey
Publication date: 2023-10-08
Corresponding author
Dilek Aslan   

Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2023;9(Supplement 2):A70
Infodemic defined as too much information including false or misleading information in digital and/or physical environments, is a global public health threat as it causes confusion, risk taking behaviors, etc. Fortunately, awareness on infodemic management increased among global scientific community since the COVID-19 pandemic. Misleading information is also a tactic used by transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) for market expansion. This study aims to investigate the infodemic content which TTCs use in public communication.

Material and Methods:
Top seven TTCs by net sales (in 2021) have been searched. Seven TTCs were determined through the website list. Search was limited to the websites and the social media channels of the companies. Missions, visions, news, announcements, future directions of the companies, content of the social media channels were investigated.

TTCs websites and social media channels included misleading information. Major tactics used by TTCs in communication with public were as follows: a) Release of false positive messages and promises like “smoke free”, “better”, “better future”, “better tomorrow” b) Websites designs were to attract young generations. c) Majority of the websites had information misleading the public. d) Misinformation on potential health the risks influence the public. e) Use of scientific innovation and transformation concepts create to instill trust. f) Use of social media channels to reach large audiences.

TTCs use different well-known tactics to deceive public which the tobacco control advocates have been aware for many years. This paper gives us remarkable clues on how the TTCs use misleading information to promote the use of tobacco. Social media is used to deliver mis/disinformation to large audience and speedy communication increases almost all the risks. In this regard, tobacco control advocates should adopt infodemic management strategies in their tobacco control efforts to repel TTCs intrigue.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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