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Open Access Effective Formats for Communicating Risks from Cigarette Smoke Chemicals

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Objective: The US government requires the public display of information about toxic chemicals in cigarettes and smoke by brand in a way that is understandable and not misleading. We sought to identify risk communication formats that meet these goals. Methods: We conducted 3 online experiments with US adult convenience samples (total N = 1866). Participants viewed a webpage displaying information about chemicals in the smoke of a cigarette brand. Experiment 1 varied the chemicals listed and format for their health effects. Experiments 2 and 3 varied the format of chemical quantities and presence/absence of a visual risk indicator. Outcomes were understandable (increasing knowledge) and not misleading (not reinforcing misperceptions). Results: Information about chemicals and health effects increased knowledge of these topics by ~30% (p < .001) compared to no information. Quantity format and use of a risk indicator generally did not affect knowledge. The proportion of participants misled ranged from 0% to 92%, depending on measure. Findings indicated 52% would use a website to search for safer cigarettes. Risk communication formats did little to reduce being misled. Conclusions: Some risk communication formats successfully increased knowledge of chemicals and health effects. However, the formats did little to reduce the proportion of people misled.
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Keywords: SMOKING; TOBACCO ADDITIVES; TOBACCO CONSTITUENTS; TOBACCO INGREDIENTS; TOBACCO REGULATION; TOBACCO USE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • 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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