Introduction Heated tobacco products, including Marlboro IQOS, are available globally. In the USA, IQOS was authorised to be advertised with claims about reduced toxicant exposure relative to cigarettes. The effects of such modified risk claims and health warnings have not been studied among young adult cigarette smokers and non-smokers.
Methods In 2020, US young adult (18–30 years, n=1328) cigarette smokers and non-smokers viewed an IQOS ad in a 4 (modified risk claim variations or none) by 3 (warning variations or none) between-subjects experiment. Outcome measures assessed perceived credibility and effectiveness of the health or risk message for discouraging IQOS use, perceived harms, efficacy beliefs, and IQOS use intentions.
Results Smokers reported significantly higher (p<0.05) perceived credibility, lower perceived effectiveness, higher efficacy beliefs about switching to IQOS and higher intentions to use IQOS than non-smokers. Among smokers, health warnings increased perceived credibility (p<0.001) and effectiveness (p<0.05), but claims did not affect outcomes examined. Among non-smokers, warnings and claims increased perceived credibility, and warnings increased perceived effectiveness (p<0.003). The reduced exposure claim increased non-smokers’ intentions to use IQOS (b=0.40, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.73).
Conclusions Among young adult smokers, health warnings increased perceived effectiveness at discouraging IQOS use and perceived credibility. Among non-smokers, warnings and claims increased perceived credibility and warnings increased perceived effectiveness, but the Food and Drug Administration-authorised reduced exposure claim increased intentions to use IQOS. Research is warranted to understand how the content of modified risk claims and health warnings for IQOS affects IQOS use in this population.
- non-cigarette tobacco products
- packaging and labelling
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