DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The aim of this exploratory study is to test whether smokers who call a stop-smoking helpline benefit from the addition of information about the characteristics of cigarette brand they smoke. It is hypothesized that those who receive the additional information, in comparison with those who receive only a stop smoking pamphlet and standardized counseling, will report 1) fewer misperceptions about the alleged safety of their brands (e.g., filters, low tar, light, milder, smoother, absence of additives, natural); 2) stronger beliefs that the risks of smoking outweigh the benefits; 3) reduced optimism about their ability to avoid serious health problems while continuing to smoke; and 4) stronger motivation to stop smoking and remain smoke-free in the future. In the first phase of this project, brand-specific informational modules will be developed and pilot tested through a combination of focus groups and structured interviews of smokers to evaluate salience and understandability of the messages developed. The second phase will involve a formal test of the tailored messages to evaluate the impact of the product information modules in a sample of 1,270 current cigarette smokers who call the New York State Smoker's Quitline. The study design is a post-test only control group design with two experimental conditions. Subjects in the experimental condition (n=635) will receive standard telephone counseling and cessation materials provided by the Quitline plus a mailed customized brochure with information about features of their cigarette brand. Subjects in the control condition (n=635) will receive only standard telephone counseling and cessation materials routinely provided by the Quitline. Telephone surveys will be conducted with control and intervention subjects six weeks later to assess receipt and attention paid to the cessation material sent in the mail (standard and intervention, respectively), beliefs about the relative advantages of the cigarette design features (i.e., filters, low tar, etc.), beliefs about their health risks from continued smoking, efforts made to stop smoking since calling the Quitline, and current smoking status. Results from this study will help determine if there is any value to tailoring messages to smokers based upon the particular features of their cigarette brand. The findings from this study also have important policy implications, as one of the cornerstones of government product regulation is to ensure that consumers are informed about the inherent dangers of the products that they are using.
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