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An Experimental Study of Nicotine Warning Statements in E-cigarette Tweets.


ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION:It is unclear whether warnings on electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) advertisements required by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will apply to social media. Given the key role of social media in marketing e-cigarettes, we seek to inform FDA decision making by exploring how warnings on various tweet content influence perceived healthiness, nicotine harm, likelihood to try e-cigarettes, and warning recall. METHODS:In this 2 × 4 between-subjects experiment participants viewed a tweet from a fictitious e-cigarette brand. Four tweet content versions (e-cigarette product, e-cigarette use, e-cigarette in social context, unrelated content) were crossed with two warning versions (absent, present). Adult e-cigarette users (N = 994) were recruited via social media ads to complete a survey and randomized to view one of eight tweets. Multivariable regressions explored effects of tweet content and warning on perceived healthiness, perceived harm, and likelihood to try e-cigarettes, and tweet content on warning recall. Covariates were tobacco and social media use and demographics. RESULTS:Tweets with warnings elicited more negative health perceptions of the e-cigarette brand than tweets without warnings (p < .05). Tweets featuring e-cigarette products (p < .05) or use (p < .001) elicited higher warning recall than tweets featuring unrelated content. CONCLUSIONS:This is the first study to examine warning effects on perceptions of e-cigarette social media marketing. Warnings led to more negative e-cigarette health perceptions, but no effect on perceived nicotine harm or likelihood to try e-cigarettes. There were differences in warning recall by tweet content. Research should explore how varying warning content (text, size, placement) on tweets from e-cigarette brands influences health risk perceptions. IMPLICATIONS:FDA's 2016 ruling requires warnings on advertisements for nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, but does not specify whether this applies to social media. This study is the first to examine how e-cigarette warnings in tweets influence perceived healthiness and harm of e-cigarettes, which is important because e-cigarette brands are voluntarily including warnings on Twitter and Instagram. Warnings influenced perceived healthiness of the e-cigarette brand, but not perceived nicotine harm or likelihood to try e-cigarettes. We also saw higher recall of warning statements for tweets featuring e-cigarettes. Findings suggest that expanding warning requirements to e-cigarette social media marketing warrants further exploration and FDA consideration.

SUBMITTER: Guillory J 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7171270 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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