As smokeless tobacco (ST) marketing increases and new products emerge on the market, very little is known about consumer perceptions of ST products. To inform development of future ST counter-marketing approaches, this qualitative study examined consumer perceptions of traditional and novel ST products and packaging.Methods
Focus groups and qualitative interviews were held with adolescent (n=23; mean age of 17 years) and adult (n=38; mean age of 29 years) male ST users from rural Ohio counties. Participants were shown a variety of traditional (eg, Copenhagen, Timber Wolf) and novel (eg, Camel Snus, Orbs) ST products and asked about perceptions of these products and their packaging. Transcriptions were coded independently for common themes by two individuals.Findings
Adolescents and adults generally had similar beliefs and reactions about ST products. While participants were familiar with a variety of traditional ST products, Copenhagen was the most frequently used product. Perceptions of quality and price of traditional products were closely tied to product taste and packaging material. Colours, design and size of ST packaging appealed to participants and influenced decisions to purchase. Adults believed novel ST products had a weak taste and were targeted at untraditional ST users. While the vast majority was unfamiliar with dissolvable tobacco, adolescents noted that they would be more convenient to use during school than traditional ST.Conclusions
Packaging has a significant role in shaping perceptions of ST and consumer behaviour. Regulation of product packaging such as shape, size and images should be part of comprehensive tobacco control.