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Consumer preferences for electronic cigarettes: results from a discrete choice experiment
  1. Christine D Czoli1,
  2. Maciej Goniewicz2,
  3. Towhidul Islam3,
  4. Kathy Kotnowski1,
  5. David Hammond1
  1. 1School of Public Health & Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA
  3. 3Department of Marketing & Consumer Studies, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Hammond, School of Public Health & Health Systems, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1; dhammond{at}uwaterloo.ca

Abstract

Introduction E-cigarettes present a formidable challenge to regulators given their variety and the rapidly evolving nicotine market. The current study sought to examine the influence of e-cigarette product characteristics on consumer perceptions and trial intentions among Canadians.

Methods An online discrete choice experiment was conducted with 915 Canadians aged 16 years and older in November 2013. An online commercial panel was used to sample 3 distinct subpopulations: (1) non-smoking youth and young adults (n=279); (2) smoking youth and young adults (n=264) and (3) smoking adults (n=372). Participants completed a series of stated-preference tasks, in which they viewed choice sets with e-cigarette product images that featured different combinations of attributes: flavour, nicotine content, health warnings and price. For each choice set, participants were asked to select one of the products or indicate ‘none of the above’ with respect to the following outcomes: interest in trying, less harm and usefulness in quitting smoking. The attributes’ impact on consumer choice for each outcome was analysed using multinomial logit regression.

Results Health warning was the most important attribute influencing participants’ intentions to try e-cigarettes (42%) and perceived efficacy as a quit aid (39%). Both flavour (36%) and health warnings (35%) significantly predicted perceptions of product harm.

Conclusions The findings indicate that consumers make trade-offs with respect to e-cigarette product characteristics, and that these trade-offs vary across different subpopulations. Given that health warnings and flavour were weighted most important by consumers in this study, these may represent good targets for e-cigarette regulatory frameworks.

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