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Effect of health messages about “Light” and “Ultra Light” cigarettes on beliefs and quitting intent
  1. Saul Shiffman*,a,
  2. Janine L Pillitterib,
  3. Steven L Burtonc,
  4. Jeffrey M Rohaya,
  5. Joe G Gitchelld
  1. aPinney Associates and *University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, bPinney Associates, Seattle, Washington, USA, cGlaxoSmithKline, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, dPinney Associates, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  1. Saul Shiffman, PhD, Pinney Associates, 201 North Craig Street, Suite 320, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USAshiffman{at}


OBJECTIVE To test the impact of three health messages focusing on vent holes, sensory effects of Light and Ultra Light cigarettes, or health consequences of smoking, respectively, on beliefs and quitting intentions.

DESIGN In the course of a random digit dialed telephone survey, subjects were randomised to hear one of three messages. To test the effects of the messages, beliefs and quitting intentions were assessed both pre- and post-message.

PARTICIPANTS Daily smokers (n = 2120) of Regular (46%), Light (39%), and Ultra Light (15%) cigarettes in the USA. The sample was weighted to match the US smoker population on age, sex, and ethnicity.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Beliefs were summarised on three dimensions: Safety (reduced health risk), Delivery (lower tar and nicotine delivery), and Sensation (less harsh). Quitting interest was captured by the “quit index”, an aggregate measure of quitting interest and intent.

RESULTS The message focusing on smokers' sensory perceptions of Light and Ultra Light cigarettes resulted in the most positive change in beliefs about safety, delivery, and intent to quit, and was particularly effective among those who believed that these cigarettes were less harsh. The effect was most pronounced among young adults, and among smokers of Light and Ultra Light brands who most endorsed their sensory benefits.

CONCLUSIONS Addressing smokers' sensory experience that Light and Ultra Light cigarettes feel less harsh may be a promising strategy for changing their misconceptions about these cigarettes and enhancing their interest in quitting. Media counter-advertising on Lights and Ultra Lights, focusing on sensory aspects of these cigarettes, may be an important part of tobacco control efforts.

  • Light
  • Ultra Light
  • smokers' beliefs
  • health messages
  • vent holes

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