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Smoker and ex-smoker reactions to cigarettes claiming reduced risk
  1. S Shiffman1,
  2. J L Pillitteri2,
  3. S L Burton3,
  4. M E Di Marino4
  1. 1Pinney Associates and University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2Pinney Associates, Seattle, Washington, USA
  3. 3GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  4. 4Pinney Associates, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Saul Shiffman PhD
 Pinney Associates, 201 North Craig Street, Suite 320, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA;


Context: The tobacco industry is introducing modified tobacco products claiming to reduce the risk of smoking (potential reduced exposure products, PREPs). If PREPs are perceived as safe, they may deter smokers from quitting and encourage re-initiation by smokers who have quit.

Objective: To assess smokers’ and ex-smokers’ perceptions of PREPs and the impact of PREP claims on interest in quitting (among smokers) or in resuming smoking (ex-smokers).

Design: A random-digit-dialled survey of US smokers and ex-smokers. We used Eclipse, a modified PREP cigarette, as an exemplar PREP. During the survey, the interviewer read risk reduction claims made for Eclipse by its manufacturer, assessing smokers’ interest in quitting before and after the exposure.

Participants: 1000 current cigarette smokers and 499 ex-smokers (300 quit within the last two years), over 18 years old.

Main outcome measures: Perception of risk reduction from Eclipse; interest in using Eclipse; smokers’ interest in quitting was assessed using a stage of change approach (pre- and post-exposure to claims).

Results: 91% of smokers thought Eclipse was safer than regular cigarettes. 24% believed Eclipse was completely safe. 57.4% of smokers were interested in using Eclipse; interest was greatest among smokers who were contemplating quitting. Exposure to Eclipse’s claims was followed by reduced interest in quitting. Among all ex-smokers, interest in Eclipse was 6.2%, but interest was 15.2% among young adults (18–25 years) who had stopped smoking within two years.

Conclusions: There is substantial risk that smokers will overinterpret reduced risk claims made for modified tobacco products. PREPs appeal to smokers who are contemplating quitting and exposure to reduced risk product claims appears to reduce smokers’ readiness to quit. PREPs also appealed to young adults who had recently stopped smoking. Thus, reduced risk tobacco product claims can undermine adult cessation and youth prevention, possibly resulting in increased harm even if the products are less toxic.

  • modified tobacco products
  • reduced risk
  • smokers’ reactions

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  • * We did not include quitting in the past year in the classification, as we were interested in assessing change, and history cannot be changed.

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