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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers: New Study Evaluates Perceived Effectiveness of Pictorial E-cigarette Warning Labels Among Young Adults

Rutgers School of Public Health associate professor, Dr. Olivia Wackowski, along with colleagues from the Rutgers School of Public Health Center for Tobacco Studies and the University of Waterloo, found pictorial nicotine addiction warnings for e-cigarettes are perceived as being more effective by young adults than text-only warnings.

The recent pilot study compares the perceived effectiveness of nicotine addiction pictorial warning labels versus text-only warning labels for e-cigarettes on young adults in the United States.

The study surveyed 876 young adults (ages 18–29) recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk who completed an online e-cigarette survey in 2018. The participants viewed and ranked five randomized versions of an e-cigarette nicotine addiction warning message – a text-only version currently required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and four pictorial versions of this same message. Pictorials included symbolic images of risk and addiction and young people. Participants were asked to rank the warnings on their perceived noticeability, the likelihood of capturing young people’s attention, memorability, relevance to the addiction warning text, and the overall effectiveness in warning people about e-cigarette risks.

The survey data was reviewed by the research team which included Drs. Jennah Sontag and Michelle Bover Manderski from Rutgers School of Public Health. The results showed that pictorial warnings were ranked higher than the text-only warning for all measured outcomes. Out of the pictorial warnings, the warning using a yellow triangle caution icon was ranked highest for all outcomes. The text-only warning was ranked as the least likely to be effective for all four outcomes in which it was assessed.

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