Objectives: In this study, the authors experimentally tested 2 hypotheses regarding visual vaping cues in e-cigarette video advertisements on harm perceptions immediately following exposure (T1), and again, 2 weeks later (T2). The cognitive gateway hypothesis predicts that vaping cues will reduce vaping harm perceptions among e-cigarette users at T1, leading to lowered smoking harm perceptions at T2. In contrast, the cognitive roadblock hypothesis predicts that vaping cues will heighten smoking harm perceptions among smokers at T1, leading to increased vaping harm perceptions at T2.
Methods: The researchers conducted a 2-wave online experiment with 251 smokers or e-cigarette users recruited from students enrolled at a large midwestern university in 2016. Participants were randomized to view: (1) 5 e-cigarette ads containing vaping cues; (2) 5 e-cigarette ads without vaping cues; or (3) 5 bottled drink ads.
Results: Findings support the cognitive roadblock hypothesis but not the gateway hypothesis. For current smokers, mediating effects of smoking harm perceptions at T1 were supported.
Conclusions: E-cigarette advertisements with vaping portrayals can increase smokers' vaping harm perceptions indirectly by activating smoking harm perceptions, potentially deterring smokers from switching to a less harmful product.
Published in Volume 4, Issue 2, pages 88-103