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Exploring Smokers' Perceptions of Differing Smokeless Tobacco News Messages

Principal Investigator: Olivia Wackowski

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health- Grant

ID number: 1 R03 CA175901-01

Award Date: 9/3/2013

Institution: University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

Communicating the risks of smokeless tobacco products (SLT) relative to cigarettes is complicated, and no tobacco companies have yet been authorized to make modified risk claims in their advertising; nevertheless, messages about the risk reduction potential of SLT are currently being communicated through the news media and thus may already be influencing the public’s SLT knowledge, perceptions and attitudes towards trying or switching to SLT. The goal of this study is to investigate smokers' interpretations of and potential reactions to SLT information presented in news stories. Specific aims are: (1) to explore interpretations of different SLT news story messages and risk information by conducting in-depth interviews with up to 30 adult smokers (aged 18 and older); smokers will be randomly assigned to read one of three different constructed news stories: a "favorable" news story describing modern SLT products as more acceptable versions of SLT and as potentially safer than cigarettes, a "traditional" news story including messages that SLT is risky and not a safe smoking alternative, and a "mixed" new story with both message types (i.e., that SLT is harmful and also that SLT is less risky than smoking); and 2) to examine the impact of different SLT message frames on smokers' perceptions of and interest in SLT by conducting a national web-based survey with 500 adult smokers randomly assigned to one of four SLT news story conditions ("favorable", "traditional", "mixed", or control [i.e., no news story]).

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