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Smokers’ Decision-Making about Tobacco Use: The Interplay of Affective and Cognitive Factors with Product Characteristics

Principal Investigator(s): Terry Frank Pechacek and Scott R. Weaver
Funding Mechanism: Intra-Departmental Delegation of Authority

ID number: 1R01CA235719-01A1

Award Date: September 19, 2019

Institution: Georgia State University

Misperceptions about the health risks and benefits of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and heated tobacco products (HTP), as well as consumer dissatisfaction with product characteristics, may limit initiation and complete substitution for cigarettes. This project will investigate how price, indoor-air policies, and ENDS and HTP product characteristics (type/design, flavors, ability to reduce cravings to smoke) interact with risk/benefit perceptions to affect smokers’ decisions to reject ENDS, to substitute them for only a few cigarettes, to switch exclusively to ENDS, or to use ENDS to completely quit using tobacco products. Study aims are: (1) to examine how cognitive, affective, and contextual factors (e.g., whether products can be used where smoking is prohibited) moderate the influence of ENDS/HTP product characteristics on product choice and tobacco use patterns and trajectories; and (2) to examine how the effects of specific ENDS/HTP product characteristics on product use patterns are moderated by risk/benefit perceptions. Aim 1 will involve qualitative focus group interviews with 120 current and former adult smokers (aged 18+) and an intensive one-year (12 weekly, then 3 quarterly) assessment with 300 current smokers who recently initiated ENDS use to examine how ENDS/HTP product characteristics influence smokers’ decisions to initiate, dual use with, or substitute for combustible product use. Aim 2 involves two experiments and a randomized clinical trial. A discrete-choice experiment (DCE) will be embedded in a survey of 300 current adult smokers to examine the relative importance of ENDS/HTP product characteristics on risk/benefit perceptions, product preferences, and use intentions, and evaluate the predictive validity of these preferences on future tobacco use. A second DCE will examine the interaction of product characteristics, risk/benefit perceptions, and contextual factors on product preferences among 2,400 adult current smokers who currently, formerly, or never used ENDS/HTP products. These results will inform the design of a randomized clinical trial with 1,800 adult smokers involving a hypothetical purchase task that will manipulate risk/benefit perceptions of ENDS/HTP products to estimate the effect on smokers’ consumption of cigarettes, ENDS, and HTP, including the substitutability or complementarity of ENDS and HTP for each other and for cigarettes. Findings may inform regulatory activities related to cigarettes, ENDS and HTP products.