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Electronic cigarette and moist snuff product characteristics independently associated with youth tobacco product perceptions.



Tobacco product characteristics convey product attributes to potential users. This study aimed to assess independent contributions of specific e-cigarette and smokeless tobacco product characteristics to adolescents' perceptions about these products.


In 2019-2020, students (N=1003) attending a convenience sample of 7 high schools in California (USA) were individually randomized to one of two discrete choice experiments, featuring either electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or moist snuff. Participants were presented like-product pairs of randomlygenerated hypothetical tobacco products differing in device type, flavor, vapor cloud, and nicotine amount (for e-cigarettes) or differing in brand, flavor, cut, and price (for moist snuff). Within pairs, participants were asked about which product they were more curious, was more dangerous, would give a greater 'buzz,' and would be easier to use. Conditional logistic regression was used to quantify independent associations of product characteristics to participants' choices.


Each e-cigarette and moist snuff characteristic was independently associated with multiple product perceptions. All non-tobacco flavors were associated with more curiosity and perceived ease-of-use but lower perceived danger. Tank and pod-type e-cigarettes were viewed as easier to use and garnered more curiosity than 'cigalike' or 'drip-mod' devices. Smaller vapor cloud e-cigarettes and lower-price moist snuff were viewed as less dangerous, less buzz-inducing, and easier to use. Product ever users held stronger perceptions than never users about device type (e-cigarettes) and brands (moist snuff), while product naïve participants more strongly associated flavor with danger and buzz.


Tobacco product characteristics convey product attributes to adolescents that may increase appeal. Restricting specific characteristics, including flavors, could reduce positive perceptions of these products among youth.

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