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Informing Tobacco Regulatory Policy through Laboratory Assessment of Appeal and Demand for Flavored Tobacco Products among Young Adults

Principal Investigator: Amy M. Cohn

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health – Grant

ID number: 1R03DA042010-01A1

Award Date: 9/5/2016

Institution: Truth Initiative Foundation


Young adults are particularly susceptible to the use of flavored tobacco products; additional research could help clarify the specific reasons underlying their appeal. The goal of this study is to develop new methods for quantifying flavored tobacco product appeal. Study aims are: (1) to validate indices of implicit (below conscious awareness) appeal across flavored and non-flavored products; (2) to examine differences in implicit appeal for flavored and non-flavored products in both susceptible (never) and current tobacco users, controlling for factors related to tobacco use (e.g., social influences, harm perceptions); and (3) to examine the impact of baseline implicit flavored product appeal on changes in flavored/non-flavored harm perceptions, intentions and curiosity to use, and tobacco use.  Researchers will recruit 60 young adult current tobacco users and 60 susceptible never users (ages 18-24) and measure baseline implicit appeal for flavored and non-flavored tobacco products. Then, using monthly web-based assessments, researchers will evaluate the impact of appeal on changes in tobacco use behavior and attitudes over six months. Implicit appeal will be assessed via two laboratory tasks: (1) an Implicit Association Task that measures the speed with which participants accurately pair pictures of flavored versus non-flavored products with words related to "attractive" or "unattractive," and (2) a behavioral economic purchase task designed to assess demand for flavored versus non-flavored products under escalating price conditions. The goal is to determine whether implicit flavored product appeal is higher than non-flavored product appeal, especially among susceptible never users, and whether flavored product appeal negatively influences tobacco use outcomes and attitudes.