Consumers’ responses to communication materials of a novel heat-not-burn tobacco product
Modified risk tobacco products (MRTPs) are defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as tobacco products that are sold or distributed for use to reduce harm or the risk of tobacco-related disease associated with commercially marketed tobacco products. Clear communication is important to ensure adult consumers understand MRTPs features, benefits and risk profile. We report an analysis of three studies (1510, 1509, and 1534 participants, respectively), in which adult smokers and non-smokers were exposed to communication materials for a candidate MRTP, the Tobacco Heating System (THS). In these studies, participants answered global comprehension questions and assessed risk perceptions of THS based on different combinations of THS communication materials (brochure or pack) and warnings (THS-tailored PMI warning or US Surgeon General’s warnings), along with study-specific benefit claims. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to assess the covariate-adjusted influence of communication-based factors on levels of comprehension and risk perception. In all three studies, the PMI warning was overall associated with higher levels of comprehension of the information about the THS risks compared to currently mandated cigarette warnings. Compared to the pack, the brochure was associated with higher levels of risk perception in all three studies and lower levels of comprehension in one of the studies. Comprehension and risk perception of THS communication materials were also influenced by sociodemographic variables, including race and education. Pooling of the results across the three studies showed a higher level of comprehension in the two studies with reduced risk claims while levels of perceived risk was not influenced by the type of claims. These findings could help to develop effective communications on MRTPs.