Young adults are a key target group for the tobacco industry with respect to marketing their products, both conventional and new and emerging, often perceived as """"""""safe"""""""" or """"""""less harmful."""""""" Therefore, the field is in great need for new, impactful information campaigns that deliver messages to young adults that are easy-to understand and not misleading. Mobile phones and text messaging represent a highly promising, widespread channel of delivery for such messages. With 96% of the adult population of the United States having access to the mobile technology, this channel offers unparalleled opportunities for reaching the targeted audience of young adults. The proposed project will considerably advance our knowledge on the current status of , awareness, attitudes, receptivity, and comprehension of the harmful effects of conventional and new and emerging tobacco products (Aim 1). The project will help to identify the most effective combinations of text message framing for communicating information about the potential harmful effects of tobacco products (Aim 2). Finally, the project will help identify and analyze key moderators of awareness, attitudes, receptivity, and understanding of the harmful effects and constituents of conventional as well as new and emerging tobacco products (Aim 3). The significance of the proposed research and relevance to public health is difficult to overestimate. The tobacco industry is becoming increasingly active in marketing new tobacco products with special appeal to younger audiences. It is critically important to design and test the most impactful messages that would debunk the tobacco industry's myths regarding their new tobacco products'safety, primarily due to the fact that these products retain their addictive potential often leading to lifelong nicotine dependence. The unique features and innovation of the project are brought about by its theoretical framework (Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion), the use of the key message determinants from marketing and public health (emotional versus rational appeal and gain- versus loss-framing), and the message delivery via mobile phones. We will utilize a randomized repeated measures design with three measurement periods and two categories of tobacco products. A total of 640 community college students will be randomly assigned to receive one of eight types of text messages. Each message type will be constructed using a unique combination of depth, appeal, and framing. In a longitudinal fashion, we will identify the optimal combination of characteristics that deliver the most impactful messages. Importantly, this study will provide important clues on how communications informing about tobacco products and tobacco use, including risk, harmful and potentially harmful constituents, new and emerging tobacco products, and potential modified-risk tobacco products should be conveyed to the young adults so that it is understandable and not misleading. This investigation is likely to produce results affecting such important areas as utilizing the mobile phone technology's potential to the fullest extent in tobacco control and helping to raise the new non-tobacco using generation of Americans.

Public Health Relevance

Young adults are a key target group for tobacco industry with respect to marketing their products, both conventional and new and emerging. The new and emerging products are often perceived as safe or less harmful. Therefore, the field is in great need for new, impactful information campaigns that would deliver messages to young adults that are easy-to-understand and not misleading. Nearly all adults in the United States own a mobile phone. The project will help to compose effective text messages informing young adults about the potential harmful effects of tobacco products.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
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University of Texas Health Science Center Houston
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