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Sponsorship Disclosures and Perceptions of E-cigarette Instagram Posts

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Objectives: Instagram influencers have many followers and are often paid to promote products, including e-cigarettes. This experimental study assessed effects of sponsorship disclosures on perceptions of e-cigarette Instagram influencer posts. Methods: Young adult e-cigarette users (age 18-29; N = 917) were randomly assigned to 3 experimental conditions varying the clarity of sponsorship disclosure on simulated Instagram influencer posts: clear (eg, "#sponsored"), ambiguous (eg, "#sp"), or no disclosure (ie, vaping-related hashtags only). After viewing each of 4 Instagram posts featuring a fictitious e-cigarette brand, participants reported hashtag recognition, ad recognition, ad trust, influencer credibility, and post engagement intentions. After viewing all posts, participants reported brand attitudes, brand use intentions, and vaping intentions. Results: With greater recognition of clear (but not ambiguous) disclosure hashtags, ad recognition increased (p = .001), perceptions of influencer credibility decreased (p = .022), and intentions to engage with posts decreased (p = .008). Ad trust was lower with greater hashtag recognition regardless of disclosures (p < .001). Sponsorship disclosures did not significantly affect brand attitudes, brand use intentions, or vaping intentions. Conclusions: Recognizing clear sponsorship disclosures may influence young adults' perceptions of and engagement with e-cigarette Instagram posts but may not affect perceptions or use of products.
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Keywords: ADVERTISING; E-CIGARETTE; ENDS; INFLUENCER; INSTAGRAM; SOCIAL MEDIA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2020

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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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