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Harm reduction for smokers with little to no quit interest: can tobacco policies encourage switching to e-cigarettes?


Objective A pressing tobacco policy concern is how to help smokers who have little interest in quitting cigarettes, a group that often suffers severe health consequences. By switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes, they could obtain nicotine, potentially with less harm. We examined if policy-relevant attributes of cigarettes/e-cigarettes might encourage these smokers to switch to e-cigarettes.

Methods An online survey and discrete choice experiment on a nationally-representative sample of adult smokers in the US who reported low interest in quitting (n=2000). We modelled preference heterogeneity using a latent class, latent variable model. We simulated policies that could encourage switching to e-cigarettes.

Results Participants formed two latent classes: (1) those with very strong preferences for their own cigarettes; and (2) those whose choices were more responsive to policies. The latter group’s choices were only somewhat responsive to menthol cigarette bans and taxes; the former group’s choices were unresponsive.

Conclusions The policies studied seem unlikely to encourage harm reduction for individuals with little interest in quitting smoking.

  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • cessation
  • economics

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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