Messaging about very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNCs) to influence policy attitudes, harm perceptions and smoking motivations: a discrete choice experiment

Reed M. Reynolds, Lucy Popova, David L. Ashley, Katherine C. Henderson, Charity A. Ntansah, Bo Yang, Emily E. Hackworth, James Hardin, James Thrasher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background To reduce smoking and the harms it causes, countries, including the USA, are considering policies to reduce nicotine in combustible tobacco to minimally addictive levels. Effective messages about very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNCs) and this policy are crucial in combating misperceptions threatening the policy’s effectiveness. Data and methods A discrete choice experiment assessed messages about VLNCs. Participants were 590 adults who smoked exclusively, 379 adults who both smoked and used e-cigarettes, 443 adults who formerly smoked and 351 young adults who never smoked (total n=1763). Seven message attributes were varied systematically (source, harm, chemicals, nicotine, satisfaction, addictiveness and quitting efficacy). Outcomes were selection of messages that generated the most positive attitude towards reduced nicotine policy, the greatest perceived harmfulness of VLNCs, and most strongly motivated quitting and initiating behaviour for VLNCs. Results Information about specific harms and chemicals of VLNCs had the largest effects on selection of messages as eliciting more negative attitudes towards VLNCs policy, increasing perceived VLNC harmfulness, increasing motivation to quit VLNCs and decreasing motivation to try VLNCs. Messages with information about quitting efficacy were selected as more motivating to quit among those who smoke, but also more motivating to try VLNCs among those who do not smoke. Conclusion Harm and chemical information can be prioritised to ensure VLNCs are not misperceived as less harmful than regular cigarettes. Messages about increased quitting efficacy and reduced addictiveness associated with VLNCs may backfire if presented to those who do not smoke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-332
Number of pages8
JournalTobacco control
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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