Reduced risk information for camel snus: projecting likelihoods of use among current smokers, former smokers and never tobacco users
A risk differential exists among tobacco products, whereby non-combusted products present less health risks than combusted products. Informing smokers of the lower risks associated with using a reduced risk product could encourage switching to that product, and thus benefit population health. This benefit must be weighed against the possibility that such information may increase tobacco use among non-users and/or reduce quitting among smokers. Using an online sample of 11,302 U.S. adults, likelihood of use for Camel Snus was assessed among current and former smokers, and never tobacco users. Respondents were randomized to view an advertisement stating that smokers who switch completely to Camel Snus can greatly reduce their risk of lung cancer, oral cancer, respiratory disease and heart disease (while also conveying cautionary information); or, a control advertisement that only described Camel Snus. Respondents indicated their intent to purchase Camel Snus for trial (1-10 scale); these ratings were then converted to projected likelihoods of use, via a predictive algorithm. Projected Camel Snus use was significantly higher among current smokers than former smokers or never tobacco users. Importantly, the reduced risk information differentially increased projected use among current smokers (8.2%), while having a minimal effect on former smokers (1.9%) and never tobacco users (0.5%). For never tobacco users, projected use was highest among those already susceptible to tobacco use. For current smokers, projected use was lower among those likely to quit (4.2%) than those not likely to quit (8.7%). These findings suggest that providing reduced risk information for Camel Snus may increase use among current smokers not likely to quit, with minimal potential to increase use among groups who could be harmed by adopting the product.