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E-Cigarette Warning Labels: Tests of Messages to Reduce Recreational Use among Adolescents

Principal Investigator: Sherri Jean Katz

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health - Grant

ID number: 1R03DA043022-01A1

Award Date: 3/10/2017

Institution: University of Minnesota


Recreational use of e-cigarettes by non-smoking youth has increased dramatically in recent years. This study tests warning label alternatives in the context of other product information to identify communication strategies that minimize youth recreational uptake of e-cigarettes. Specific aims are: (1) to determine the impact of three different e-cigarette warning labels on adolescents’ perceptions of the product; (2) to determine whether a modified risk statement near the warning label changes how adolescents perceive the product; and (3) to determine whether the mention of a novelty flavor near the warning label changes how adolescents perceive the product.  Investigators will present 650 ninth and tenth graders with a randomly assigned warning label that varies by the type of consequence mentioned in the warning label (3 variables) as well as whether or not the package features a modified risk statement (“This product presents a lower risk of tobacco-related disease than traditional cigarettes”; 2 variables) and/or the mention of any one of three sweet novelty flavors to be determined (2 variables); the 3x2x2 study design, plus one control condition, will yield 13 possible experimental labels. The three warning labels are: (a) one specific consequence (FDA text: WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.); (b) multiple specific consequences (a 117-word warning that was proposed by the MarkTen manufacturer); or (c) an abstract consequence (WARNING: The long-term health risks associated with this product are unknown.). Participants will then complete an iPad survey that includes both newly-developed questions and questions from previously-validated surveys such as the Youth Tobacco Study and the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study; outcomes measured will include risk perceptions, message comprehension, harm-minimizing beliefs, susceptibility, and behavioral intentions toward e-cigarette uptake. Participants will be debriefed and advised against using e-cigarettes.