Research on e-cigarette warnings has primarily focused on addiction warnings, such as the one soon to be required by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. However, reduced-risk warnings, similar to the warnings recently proposed for smokeless tobacco products, remain a future possibility for e-cigarettes. Thus, this brief report compares e-cigarette health risk perceptions based on reduced-risk warnings and the FDA addiction risk warning and considers whether these warnings differ in believability, ease of comprehension, and perceptions about the clarity of risk communication.
A quota sample of 672 smokers, e-cigarette users, dual-users, and non-users participated in this between-subjects experiment. Study participants were randomly assigned to one of three warning conditions, including the FDA-mandated addiction warning and two reduced-risk warnings. After exposure to the warning statement, participants responded to measures of risk perceptions, believability, comprehension, and communication clarity.
Results reveal that the addiction warning is more believable, easier to comprehend, and perceived as more clearly communicating the health risks of e-cigarettes compared to the reduced-risk warnings. In addition, overall health risk perceptions and addiction risk perceptions based on the addiction warning are greater than risk perceptions based on the reduced-risk warnings. In contrast, risk perceptions related to cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and harm to an unborn baby are greater for the reduced-risk warnings.
This study provides a comparison of the forthcoming FDA-mandated e-cigarette addiction warning and reduced-risk warnings that have begun to be considered in the literature on a number of critical outcomes.
This research provides a greater understanding of how variations of e-cigarette warnings, including addiction and reduced-risk warnings, are perceived by smokers, e-cigarette users, dual-users, and non-users. Specifically, findings show that overall health risk perceptions and addiction risk perceptions based on the addiction warning are greater than risk perceptions based on the reduced-risk warnings. In contrast, specific disease-related risk perceptions, such as cancer and heart disease, are greater for the reduced-risk warnings.