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E-cigarette Beliefs: Testing a Relative Risk Message in a Representative US Sample

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Objectives: We tested the effect of a relative risk health message on US adults' beliefs about the harm associated with e-cigarettes and their likelihood of future e-cigarette use. Methods: A nationally representative sample of US adults (N = 773) from the online probability-based panel AmeriSpeak was surveyed in January 2016. Respondents were randomized to receive a test message about the risk of e-cigarettes relative to conventional cigarettes or a control health message. Results: Test group respondents provided significantly lower estimates of harm associated with e-cigarettes compared to control group respondents. Current nonsmokers ages 30 and older who saw the test message rated e-cigarettes as less harmful than their nonsmoking counterparts who did not see the test message. The test message had no effect on other subgroups' harm beliefs and on none of the respondents' likelihood of future e-cigarette use. Conclusions: A single exposure to a relative risk statement provided a minimal educational effect about the relative harm of e-cigarettes compared to combustible cigarettes but did not influence likelihood of future e-cigarette use, and there is some evidence of a differential effect of the test message on nonsmokers compared to smokers.
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Keywords: COMMUNICATION; E-CIGARETTES; EXPERIMENT; POLICY; RISK PERCEPTIONS; TOBACCO USE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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