Tackling Smoker Misperceptions About E-cigarettes Using Expert Videos

Madeleine Svenson, James Green, Olivia M Maynard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Background
The pervasive misperception that e-cigarettes are equally or more harmful than combustible cigarettes is a barrier to current smokers switching to e-cigarettes. To tackle misperceptions, public health bodies are using informational videos, although their efficacy is unknown.

Methods
In our online study, current UK smokers who do not vape (n = 382) were randomized to view either: (1) a Cancer Research UK (CRUK) text-only video; (2) a video featuring leading e-cigarette experts (expert); or (3) a no video control condition, and then completed questions regarding e-cigarette harm perceptions.

Results
Compared to the control condition, participants in the CRUK condition, and especially those in the expert condition had more accurate harm perceptions of e-cigarettes and had more accurate knowledge of e-cigarette constituents. In the expert condition, 67% of individuals reported they would try an e-cigarette in a future quit attempt, compared with 51% in the CRUK condition and 35% in the control condition.

Conclusions
Our findings are encouraging in the face of mounting evidence that e-cigarette misperceptions are increasing. Whilst misperceptions are often characterized as resistant to correction, we find that carefully designed public health information videos have the potential to promote a more accurate, informed view of e-cigarettes, and encourage intended e-cigarette use among UK smokers. Importantly, we find this among current smokers who do not vape, a group often reported as having the highest levels of misperceptions and as having the most to gain from accurate e-cigarette perceptions.

Implications
There is mounting evidence that e-cigarette misperceptions are increasing, particularly among smokers who do not vape, a group who have most to gain from accurate information about e-cigarettes. Misperceptions are often characterized as difficult to change and there is relatively little research on how to correct e-cigarette misperceptions. Our research in the UK shows that, compared to controls, e-cigarette misperceptions can be corrected among those smokers who are shown carefully constructed expert videos. This work has important implications for the development and dissemination of these important messages.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberntab104
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Volume23
Issue number11
Early online date20 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

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