Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Thomas Brandon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Goldman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Vandello, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chrisitine Vinci, Ph.D.


e-cigarettes, Expectancies, Harm reduction, youth PSA


A great deal of controversy surrounds e-cigarettes, with some arguing that protection of youth and non-users is paramount and others maintaining that these products are beneficial from a harm reduction perspective for use by adult smokers for switching from combustible cigarettes and for smoking cessation. Opponents of e-cigarettes have allocated tremendous funds toward advertising campaigns aimed at youth deterrence; however, to date, the effects of these ads upon adult smokers have yet to be examined. The current study used a between-subjects experimental design to investigate the effects of an FDA-distributed youth-targeted anti-vaping PSA, “Vaping is an Epidemic,” upon adult smokers who view it. The PSA shows teens vaping and, upon inhalation, parasite-like organisms invading their organs and skin. We hypothesized that the FDA PSA – compared to a matched control video that was similar in parasitic activity but absent of e-cigarette content – would increase negative health-related expectancies, and because the PSA conveys that e-cigarettes are very powerful, it would also increase expectancies concerning potency. We also hypothesized that the anti-vaping PSA would impact other general expectancies of e-cigarettes and additional variables reflecting motivation to quit smoking (i.e., switch to vaping). We found that viewing the PSA produced increases in both health harm and potency expectancies (ps < .01), which were correlated (p < .001). We also found significant group differences (ps < .05) such that viewing the PSA resulted in overall more negative expectancies about e-cigarettes and all other variables related to harm reduction usage. Those who viewed the PSA rated e-cigarettes as more harmful and less effective compared to those who saw the control video. Viewing the PSA also resulted in lower switching motivation (i.e., switching from combustible to e-cigarettes). Overall, our findings indicated that adult smokers who viewed the PSA were less likely to consider e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, thus reducing access to a cessation aid with growing empirical support. Findings suggest that youth-oriented anti-vaping messages may have unintended public health consequences upon adult audiences.