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Designing and Evaluating Communication for Dual Users of E-cigarettes and Combustible Cigarettes

Principal Investigator: M. Justin Byron

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health – Grant

ID number: 1K01CA253234-01

Award Date: 9/9/2020

Institution: University of North Carolina


People who use both cigarettes and e-cigarettes (“dual users”) may not be adequately informed of their continued risk from smoking combustible cigarettes as well as the known harms of e-cigarettes. The goal of this project is to develop communication campaign messages for dual users that increase their knowledge of the high health risk of dual use and increase their intent to quit combustible cigarettes and ultimately e-cigarettes. Study aims are: (1) to develop effective campaign messages by investigating how dual users think about their identity, motivations for tobacco product use, and the barriers to quitting combustible cigarettes; (2) to determine whether campaign ads are more engaging if they focus on quitting combustible cigarettes only, sequentially quitting cigarettes and e-cigarettes, or simultaneously quitting cigarettes and e-cigarettes; and (3) to pilot test the effectiveness of texted campaign ads in changing real-world combustible cigarette and e-cigarette quit intention among dual users. To achieve Aim 1, the research team will conduct six focus groups (8-10 adult dual users ages 18+ per group) to better understand dual use and gather concepts for messages, draft 50-75 potential campaign messages for dual users to encourage them to quit, and conduct a national survey with 1,008 adult dual users to select the most promising campaign message themes. To achieve Aim 2, the team will create visual ads for the messages from Aim 1 and use an eye-tracking experiment to determine how the different conditions affect attention among dual users. To achieve Aim 3, the team will conduct a five-week experiment with 90 adult dual users randomized to receive the most effective ads from Aim 2 or control ads in order to determine subsequent quit intentions and behaviors. Study findings may inform the development of communication campaign messages specifically for dual cigarette and e-cigarette users.

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