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A qualitative study of smokers’ responses to messages discouraging dual tobacco product use


Cigarette companies increasingly promote novel smokeless tobacco products to smokers, encouraging them to use smokeless tobacco in smoke-free environments. New messages may counteract this promotion. We developed 12 initial anti-smokeless message ideas and tested them in eight online focus groups with 75 US smokers. Those smokers who never tried smokeless tobacco were unaware of health risks of novel smokeless tobacco products, perceived scary messages as effective and acknowledged the addictive nature of nicotine. Smokers who had tried smokeless tobacco shared their personal (mainly negative) experiences with smokeless tobacco, were aware of health risks of novel smokeless tobacco products, but denied personal addiction, and misinterpreted or disregarded more threatening messages. Portraying women as smokeless tobacco users was perceived as unbelievable, and emphasizing the lack of appeal of novel smokeless tobacco products was perceived as encouraging continued smoking. Future ads should educate smokers about risks of novel smokeless tobacco products, but past users and never users may require different message strategies.

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