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Targeted Versus Nontargeted Communication About Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems in Three Smoker Groups

9/21/2018 - Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health

Background: This study used an audience segmentation and message targeting approach to identify three distinct smoker groups-Older Freedom Smokers (OFS), Reluctant Smokers (RS), and Young Enthusiasts (YE)-and examined whether an electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) message targeting each smoker group (targeted message) was associated with more health-enhancing outcomes than messages targeting other groups (nontargeted messages). Methods: An online experiment was conducted among 580 adult smokers with 180 OFS, 200 RS, and 200 YE. Each smoker group viewed a targeted message and two nontargeted messages in a random order. Following the presentation of each message, participants reported their perceived message effectiveness, message reactions, ENDS- and cigarette-related beliefs, and behavioral intentions. Results: The targeted vs. nontargeted messages mostly did not produce more health-enhancing outcomes on perceptions of absolute and comparative risks of ENDS and cigarettes, response efficacy of ENDS, and self-efficacy as well as intentions to quit smoking. Conclusions: Our targeted messages did not appear to be a better choice over nontargeted messages to communicate about ENDS to smokers. Given the increasing call to accurately inform the public of the risk differences among various tobacco products, future studies should continue to explore whether targeted messages could be employed to communicate about the comparative risks of ENDS.
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