Many people overestimate the health risks associated with nicotine, mistakenly perceiving nicotine as the main carcinogen in cigarettes and a leading cause of smoking-related diseases. Health professionals have been calling for public education programs to correct nicotine misperceptions in the hope that a lower risk perception of nicotine could encourage the use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). However, a lower risk perception of nicotine could also lower perceived risk of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). This paper evaluated the necessity of correcting nicotine misperceptions and explored possible intervention strategies to increase use of NRT and decrease use of e-cigarettes. In Study 1, smokers were surveyed about their perceptions of nicotine harm, and attitudes and intention toward using NRT and e-cigarettes. Results showed that overestimation of nicotine harm was associated with e-cigarette attitude and intention, but not with NRT. Informed by the survey results, three correction messages (a nicotine message, an NRT message, and an e-cigarette message) were developed and experimentally tested in Study 2 on both tobacco users and non-tobacco users. The nicotine message lowered people’s perception of nicotine harm but it did not change attitude and intention toward tobacco product use. The NRT message also failed to influence NRT attitudes and intentions. The e-cigarette message significantly lowered attitudes and intentions to use e-cigarette.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)