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Novel "Tobacco-Free" Oral Nicotine Pouches: The Impact of Product Features and Marketing Influences on Abuse Liability, Perceptions, and Use Behavior in Smokers and Non-Nicotine Users

Principal Investigator: Tory Spindle and Meghan Moran
Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health - Grant
ID Number: 1R01DA055962-01
Award Date: 3/28/2022
Institution: Johns Hopkins University


A novel class of oral nicotine pouches that contain a nicotine powder instead of tobacco leaves has recently emerged; these pouches often contain non-tobacco flavors (e.g., fruit) with known appeal to youth. The goal of this study is to describe nicotine pouch product features and marketing tactics that may drive initiation and continued use among smokers and non-nicotine users, including youth. Study aims are: (1) to examine how pouch flavors and nicotine doses impact pharmacokinetics (PK), or how nicotine moves through the body, and pharmacodynamics (PD), or the effects a person feels after using a drug, in cigarette smokers; (2) to characterize nicotine pouch marketing tactics in advertisements and examine the influence of these tactics on cigarette smokers’ and youth non-nicotine users’ product perceptions; and (3) to examine how a common marketing tactic (e.g., “tobacco-free” descriptors) impacts use behaviors and PK/PD effects in cigarette smokers and non-nicotine users. To achieve Aim 1, 28 smokers (ages 21+) will use pouches of different flavors (tobacco, mint, fruit) and nicotine doses (low, high), and their own brand of cigarettes over seven laboratory sessions, and PK and PD effects (e.g., subjective abuse liability, tobacco withdrawal) will be assessed. In Aim 2, researchers will review nicotine pouch advertisements over 5 years to identify/monitor marketing tactics and examine, via web-based experiments, how common tactics influence product perceptions (i.e., perceived harm, addictiveness, appeal) and use intentions among 2,500 adult (ages 21+) cigarette smokers and 2,500 youth (ages 13-20) non-nicotine users. In Aim 3, researchers will conduct a second laboratory study with 60 smokers and 60 non-nicotine users (ages 21+) to determine how a common marketing tactic identified from the Aim 2 marketing analysis (“tobacco-free” descriptors) impacts pouch use behaviors and PK/PD effects. Findings may inform future regulatory activities related to novel oral nicotine pouches. 
 

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