The Experimental Tobacco Marketplace: Narrative Influence on Electronic Cigarette Substitution

W. Brady DeHart, Brent A. Kaplan, Derek A. Pope, Alexandra M. Mellis, Warren K. Bickel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Despite promising decreases in overall smoking rates, a significant proportion of the population continues to engage in this costly behavior. Substituting e-cigarettes for conventional cigarettes is an increasingly popular harm-reduction strategy. Narratives may be one method of increasing the substitutability of e-cigarettes. Participants (N = 160) were assigned to 1 of 4 narratives that described a close friend becoming ill. In the positive narrative, participants read about a friend that became ill but learned it was only the flu. In the negative narrative, the friend became ill from smoking cigarettes; in the negativeregret narrative, the friend became ill from smoking cigarettes and explicitly expressed regret for having started smoking; and in the negative change narrative, the friend became ill from smoking, switched to e-cigarettes, and made a full recovery. Participants then completed an experimental tobacco marketplace (ETM) in which they could purchase conventional cigarettes and alternative nicotine products, including e-cigarettes. Across ETM trials, the price of conventional cigarettes increased while the price of the alternative products remained constant. Initial purchasing of conventional cigarettes decreased and initial purchasing of e-cigarettes increased in the negative-change group compared with the other three groups. This finding was moderated by conventional cigarette dependence and perception of e-cigarette risk but not previous e-cigarette exposure. Narratives can change conventional cigarette and e-cigarette purchasing in an ETM that mimics real-world marketplaces. Narratives can be a valuable harm-reduction tool because they are cost-effective, can be widely disseminated, and can be personalized to individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-124
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • Behavioral economics
  • Demand
  • Experimental tobacco marketplace
  • Narrativesharm reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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