Evaluating Effects of Packaging and Market Availability of Flavored Tobacco Products on Consumer Perception and Behavior

Maansi Bansal-Travers, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator(s): Maansi Bansal-Travers, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Flavored tobacco products influence appeal, use, and perceptions of reduced harm. This project will investigate how descriptor terms such as “natural”, “cherry gummy bear”, “Neapolitan ice cream”, and “chocolate milk shake” and pictures illustrating those terms influence perceptions of appeal, harm, and intention to use, among both current and susceptible non-users of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The goal of this project is to evaluate perceptions of flavored tobacco products and relevant messages as conveyed by package design characteristics (i.e., colors, design, descriptor terms), as well as the potential impact on demand and behavior, for cigarettes, cigarillos/little cigars, and ENDS.

Study aims:

(1) to evaluate how to communicate messages about flavors and potential harms associated with specific flavors to consumers of combustible tobacco products and ENDS; and

(2) to evaluate the potential effects on tobacco use behavior of flavored tobacco products with varied risk messaging and changes in market availability (e.g., restricted range of flavors, changes in descriptors. Researchers will conduct three studies in adults (ages 18 and older) to achieve these aims.

In Study 1, researchers will conduct eight focus groups with 100 participants and 20 in-depth one-on-one interviews to examine beliefs and behaviors related to flavored e-cigarette use. In Study 2, researchers will conduct a mall-intercept survey experiment with 192 e-cigarette users and susceptible non-users to obtain reactions to e-cigarettes/e-liquids with fictitious packaging/brand names.

In Study 3, researchers will conduct an experimental auction in which 384 participants bid on five unflavored and flavored products (four types of e-cigarettes and one pack of cigarettes or little cigars) to examine the influence of changes in market availability of flavored tobacco products on willingness to pay. Findings may inform future regulatory activities related to flavors.