The Impact of Health Warning Labels for Swedish Snus Advertisements on Young Adults’ Snus Perceptions and Behavioral Intentions

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Abstract

Introduction:

This study examined the impact of warning labels conveying the potential harms and addictiveness of Swedish snus and the potential-reduced harms of Swedish snus among young adult nonsmokers and smokers.

Methods:

A convenience sample of young adults aged 18–30 residing in the United States (n = 517, 56% male, 33% smokers) participated in an online experiment. Participants completed baseline measures and were randomized to 1 of 5 experimental conditions where they viewed a Swedish snus ad with warning labels that varied by condition: (1) Control—no warning; (2) Addiction—warning conveying the addictiveness of snus; (3) Harm—warning communicating the potential harms of snus; (4) Harm Reduction—warning conveying the potential-reduced harms of snus compared with cigarettes; (5) Harm Reduction Switch—warning communicating the potential-reduced harms of snus when switching completely from cigarettes to snus. Outcomes measured included perceived harms and addictiveness of snus, thoughts about not using snus, and intentions to use snus.

Results:

Participants in the Harm Reduction and Harm Reduction Switch conditions perceived snus to be less harmful than cigarettes compared with the Control, Addiction, and Harm conditions. Nonsmokers in the Harm Reduction condition reported fewer thoughts about not using snus than nonsmokers in the Harm condition.

Conclusions:

Warnings conveying the potential-reduced harms of Swedish snus compared with cigarettes generate perceptions that snus is less harmful than cigarettes and produce fewer thoughts about not using snus among nonsmokers. Such perceptions have been associated with snus use in prior studies.

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