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Assistant Professor Sherri Jean Katz Studying E-Cig Labels with NIH Grant

Her research is relevant to a recent FDA warning to E-cigarette companies.
September 13, 2018
Sherri Katz

The Food and Drug Adminstration warned e-cigarette compaines about teenage use that's reached an "epidemic proportion." An HSJMC faculty member has been studying e-cigarette warning labels for more than a year. 

In 2017, Assistant Professor Sherri Jean Katz was awarded a two-year, $150,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health/NIDA (1R03 DA043022) for her project, "E-cigarettes warning labels: Tests of messages to reduce recreational use among adolescents.”

While e-cigarettes are often used by adult smokers to help them quit traditional cigarettes, they can be harm-elevating when used recreationally by non-smoking youth. The focus of this study is on how the language used on e-cigarette warning statements influences risk perceptions among teenagers. Katz and her collaborators conducted an experiment with 715 high school students, 240 college students in an eyetracker, and 36 college students in a focus group, in the greater-Twin Cities area. The team is comparing perceptions of different label conditions to one another, independently and in the context of other package elements, such as flavors and modified risk statements.

“With traditional cigarettes, the message is clear – don’t smoke. E-cigarettes require a more nuanced message," said Assistant Professor Katz. 

"What is really interesting is that we see a very big difference between those who have tried an e-cigarette even once and those who have never tried one. For example, in our study of 658 high school youth in the Twin Cities area, we found that 60 percent of “triers” agree or strongly agree that e-cigarettes are fun to try, while less than 5 percent of “non-triers” fell into these categories. And, almost half of “triers” expect to use an e-cigarette again soon, while only 1.5 percent of “non-triers” said they probably would use one soon.

"At the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, we are working on researching health messaging strategies surrounding e-cigarettes. The challenge is to discourage recreational use, without discouraging existing adult smokers who may want to fully transition from traditional cigarettes," she said.

Sherri Jean Katz is an assistant professor at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication and is affiliated with the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota. Her areas of expertise include health communication, tobacco warning labels and tobacco and youth. Her collaborators on this topic are Dorothy Hatsukami, Director of Tobacco Research Programs, biostatistician Bruce Lindgren, and several undergraduate and graduate students. Pilot work on this project was supported by a University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship Award, University of Minnesota Start-up Funds, the Paul Brainerd Computer Technology Fund, and National Institutes of Health/ National Cancer Institute (U19 CA157345).  

Contact information
Sherri Jean Katz, sjkatz@umn.edu, 917-446-4745 (cell)