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Health Educ Res. 2017 Dec 1;32(6):537-545. doi: 10.1093/her/cyx067.

ST product characteristics and relationships with perceptions and behaviors among rural adolescent males: a qualitative study.

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Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences, University of California San Francisco, 3333 California St. Suite 495, San Francisco, CA 94143-1361, USA.
Alameda County Public Health Department, Office of Dental Health, 1000 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607, USA.


Although smoking declines in the United States, the prevalence of male adolescent smokeless tobacco (ST; moist snuff and chewing tobacco) use remains unchanged. ST product characteristics, such as flavoring, packaging, and branding, could influence adolescents' ST initiation and continued use. This qualitative study examines the potential role of product characteristics in shaping ST-related perceptions and behaviors among rural adolescent males. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted at three California rural high schools. ST users were asked about their experiences and perceptions related to product characteristics. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed using a general inductive approach. Participants associated flavored ST with appealing non-tobacco products, such as chewing gum and alcohol. Availability of different varieties and flavors stimulated interest and curiosity in sampling or switching between ST products. Time-limited promotional flavors and packaging also enhanced product appeal. Adolescent ST users preferred certain brands based on perceived brand features and perceived nicotine content, associating higher-strength brands as better suited for experienced ST users. Brand preferences frequently reflected perceived ST brand popularity within peer groups. Based on these observations, potential ST regulation and health education campaigns to address misconceptions about ST characteristics could influence adolescents' ST-related perceptions and reduce ST use among this vulnerable population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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