Online Program

Associations Between Beliefs about E-Cigarettes and Public Support for Regulating E-Cigarettes: The Moderating Role of Trust in Government Regulatory Agencies

Monday, November 2, 2015

Chul-joo Lee, Department of Communication, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (South)
Andy Tan, PhD, MPH, MBA, MBBS, Population Sciences Division, Center for Community Based Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Cabral Bigman, PhD, Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Background: Lack of trust in public institutions may serve as a cognitive shortcut or heuristic that undermines public support for newly introduced policies in conjunction with underlying health beliefs. We examined associations between e-cigarette beliefs and support for e-cigarette regulations, and whether trust in government regulatory agencies moderates these associations.

Methods: Online survey among a national sample of U.S. adults in July 2014 (527 participants who have heard about e-cigarettes). Support for regulations was an average of support for 6 e-cigarette policies (e.g., restricting e-cigarette use in smoke-free areas) (alpha= .85). Participants were asked about beliefs of harms (average of 4 items, alpha = .79) and benefits (average of 3 items, alpha = .79) of e-cigarettes and their trust in government regulatory agencies and e-cigarette companies. We fitted multiple regression models to test the main and interaction effects of belief and trust variables, adjusting for covariates and weighted to represent the U.S. adult population.

Results: Beliefs about e-cigarette harms (b = .458, SE = .467, p = .000) and trust in government regulatory agencies (b = .190, SE = .033, p = .000) were associated with higher support for e-cigarette regulations. The association between beliefs about harms and support for regulations was stronger among respondents who had lower trust in government regulatory agencies (b = -.104, SE = .038, p = .006).

Conclusion: Public communication efforts to advocate for e-cigarette regulations should consider targeted messages about harms related to e-cigarettes, especially among groups who mistrust the government regulatory agencies.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the level of public support for regulating electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) among a national sample of U.S. adults. Analyze the associations between beliefs about e-cigarette harms and benefits and support for regulating e-cigarettes. Assess the extent to which trust in government moderates the associations between beliefs and support for regulating e-cigarettes. Discuss implications for public communication efforts to influence and advocate for tobacco control policies.

Keyword(s): Communication, Tobacco Control

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-investigator of funded grants focusing on cancer communication, health communication, and public opinion regarding health or science issues.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.