Smokers’ and E-Cig Users’ Thoughts on Modified Risk Warnings
The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act opened the possibility for tobacco companies to apply to market their products as “modified” or reduced risks. In reality, research on how to communicate comparative tobacco risks – and how such messages are interpreted – is limited. The goal of this study was to examine perceptions of potential modified risk statements presented as warning labels for e-cigarettes.
The study included six focus groups between 2014 and 2015, with 27 adult e-cigarette users and cigarette-only smokers. Each provided commented on the two versions of a modified risk warning for e-cigs:
- “WARNING: No tobacco product is safe, but this product presents substantially lower risks to health than cigarettes”.
- “WARNING: This product may be harmful to health but is substantially less harmful than cigarettes”.
The outcome? Most of the participants shared the belief that e-cigs are safer than cigarettes, and some felt that the messages were true and accurate. However, many remained skeptical and uncomfortable with the warnings; they felt that the messages did not “seem like a warning” and said the phrase “substantially lower risks” could be misleading and hard to understand. Several participants felt that the second warning was stronger because it was more active or more specific.
The major concern is that modified risk messages about e-cigarettes may impact perceptions and use of the product. Many are calling for more research to be done because of growing concerns over teens and e-cigarettes. According to recent research by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes than cigarettes.
The data also revealed that high teen exposure to e-cig advertising, with 7 in 10 saying they were exposed to the ads. When asked what was in their e-cig, 66 percent of teens answered, “just flavoring”. 13.7 percent said didn’t know, 13.2 percent said Nicotine and 5.8 percent said marijuana.
In the end, more research is needed to identify the wording and placement that could increase benefits and minimize harm. Especially when it comes to teens and the influence e-cig ads have on their decisions to start using them. Meanwhile, businesses struggle to find the services they need due to the risk nature of the industry. As the discussion continues, e-cig business owners turn to electronic cigarette merchant account to keep payment processing safe, secure and convenient.
Author Bio: Electronic payments and electronic cigarette merchant account expert Blair Thomas co-founded eMerchantBroker, serving both traditional and high-risk merchants. His passions include producing music and traveling.