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TSRC, Tob. Sci. Res. Conf., 2023, 76, abstr. 28 (also presented at CORESTA SSPT2023)

Promotional materials for a novel heated tobacco capsule system do not alter risk perceptions

Altria Client Services, Richmond, VA, USA

Heated tobacco products may offer a reduced risk alternative to adults 21+ who smoke cigarettes (AS) and are unable or unwilling to quit. We conducted an online quantitative experimental study evaluating the effects of promotional materials on risk perceptions for a novel heated tobacco capsule system (HTC) among adults who use and do not use tobacco. The study included 4,511 U.S. adults, who were either current AS, adults who used other tobacco products (OTP), or adult nonusers (NU) who did not currently use any tobacco. The study oversampled for ages 21-24 and included a cohort of underage adults aged 18-20. Participants were randomly assigned to view either the prototype HTC concept with a portfolio of potential promotional materials (Test) or prototype concept only (Control) and completed surveys measuring risk perceptions. Participants could re-visit the materials throughout the study. Adults who used tobacco (AS and OTP) and NU accurately perceived using HTC as less risky than using cigarettes or dual use, and riskier than using nicotine replacement therapies or quitting all tobacco. Exposure to promotional materials did not affect relative risk perceptions of HTC (except in OTP group). Across seven health outcomes related to tobacco use, absolute risk perceptions (likelihood of risk) of the HTC ranged from 39-86% (100% = extremely likely) and were unaffected by exposure to promotional materials. Absolute risk perceptions were higher among NU compared to tobacco users. These results suggest that, in the context of the proposed promotional materials, tobacco users and NU appropriately perceive that the novel HTC is not risk-free. Appropriate understanding of risks may facilitate the transition of AS 21+ to HTC, leading towards a smoke-free future.