The purpose of this study is to determine how nonsmokers perceive conflicting information when a modified risk statement is included along with a warning label on e-cigarette packages. We propose an application of the heuristic-systematic model to test whether this conflicting information leads to more or less active processing. As part of a larger inquiry into e-cigarette labeling, we present an experiment (n = 303) in which we test this model with nonsmokers, measuring ambiguity perceptions, counter-arguing, reduced effectiveness of the message, and behavioral intentions. Results demonstrate that the addition of a modified risk statement on the package with the warning label increases ambiguity perceptions which can lead to reduced effectiveness of warning labels and reduced behavioral intentions to avoid using e-cigarettes among nonsmokers. While the systematic and heuristic pathways are both explanatory, heuristic processing provides the better fit.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research reported in this paper was supported in part, by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (U19 CA157345), by the National Institute on Drug Abuse/National Institutes of Health and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products R03-DA043022, by a University of Minnesota Grant-In-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship, the Institute for New Media Studies, and by funds from the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts and Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIDA/NIH, the FDA, or the University of Minnesota.