Journal of Health Communications   |  December 13, 2017

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This study was a 3 (Brand: Blu, MarkTen, Vuse) by 3 (Warning Size: 20%, 30%, or 50% of advertisement surface) by 2 (Warning Background: White, Red) experimental investigation of the effects of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) warning label design features. Young adults aged 18–30 years (n = 544) were recruited online, completed demographic and tobacco use history measures, and randomized to view e-cigarette advertisements with warning labels that varied by the experimental conditions. Participants completed a task assessing self-reported visual attention to advertisements with a-priori regions of interest defined around warning labels. Warning message recall and perceived addictiveness of e-cigarettes were assessed post-exposure. Approximately half of participants reported attending to warning labels and reported attention was greater for warnings on red versus white backgrounds. Recall of the warning message content was also greater among those reporting attention to the warning label. Overall, those who viewed warnings on red backgrounds reported lower perceived addictiveness than those who viewed warnings on white backgrounds, and e-cigarette users reported lower perceived addictiveness than non-users. Among e-cigarette users, viewing warnings on white backgrounds produced perceptions more similar to non-users. Greater recall was significantly correlated with greater perceived addictiveness. This study provides some of the first evidence that e-cigarette warning label design features including size and coloring affect self-reported attention and content recall.

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