Effective Message Elements for Disclosures about Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke

Cigarette smoke contains at least 93 chemicals or “constituents” that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified as harmful or potentially harmful to human health. In this study, the authors sought to identify which constituent disclosure message elements are most effective in discouraging people from smoking. Three hundred eighty-eight current smokers ages 18 and older completed an online survey in February 2015. The participants were randomised to respond to one of two sets of 13 toxic products that contain cigarette constituents and 25 health effects associated with cigarette constituents. Products that elicited the most discouragement were those with lower chances of exposure (e.g., explosives), followed by products with possible exposure (e.g., rat poison) and products with a high likelihood of exposure (e.g., floor cleaner). Awareness of toxic products that constituents are found in (p<0.001) and low exposure products (p<0.001) were associated with higher discouragement. Health effects that people had heard are caused by cigarette smoke constituents elicited higher discouragement from smoking cigarettes (p<0.001). Cancer was associated with higher discouragement relative to respiratory, cardiovascular, and reproductive health effects (all p<0.001). The authors concluded that cigarette smoke constituent messages may discourage smoking if they include information about carcinogenic health effects (e.g., mouth cancer, lung tumours) and low exposure toxic products (e.g. explosives, radioactive material) may be particularly effective message elements. This study identified health effects and toxic products, especially cancers and rarely encountered toxic products, that may discourage smoking when included in disclosure messages. By constructing messages that communicate the harms associated with tobacco use by contextualizing those harms in terms of specific constituents, tobacco education messaging efforts may be increasingly successful. Authors: Kelley DE, Boynton MH, Noar SM, Morgan JC, Mendel JR, Ribisl KM, Stepanov I, Nylander-French LA, Brewer NT ;Full Source: Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2017 May 17. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntx109. [Epub ahead of print] ;