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E-Cigarette Awareness and Perceived Harmfulness

Prevalence and Associations with Smoking-Cessation Outcomes

      Background

      Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are increasingly advertised as replacements for regular cigarettes or cessation aids for smokers.

      Purpose

      To describe the prevalence and correlates of e-cigarette awareness and perceived harmfulness among U.S. adults and analyze whether these variables are associated with smokers’ past-year quit attempts and intention to quit.

      Methods

      Data were obtained from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS 4 Cycle 2), conducted from October 2012 to January 2013. Data analyses were performed from June to August 2013.

      Results

      Overall, 77% of respondents were aware of e-cigarettes. Of these, 51% believed e-cigarettes were less harmful than cigarettes. Younger, white (compared with Hispanic), more educated respondents and current or former smokers (compared with non-smokers) were more likely to be aware of e-cigarettes. Among those who were aware of e-cigarettes, younger, more educated respondents and current smokers (compared with former and non-smokers) were more likely to believe that e-cigarettes were less harmful. Awareness and perceived harm were not associated with smokers’ past year quit attempts or intention to quit.

      Conclusions

      Overall e-cigarette awareness increased whereas the proportion of smokers who perceived less harm of e-cigarettes declined compared with earlier surveys. However, awareness and perceived harm of e-cigarettes did not show evidence of promoting smoking cessation at the population level.
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      Linked Article

      • Correction
        American Journal of Preventive MedicineVol. 50Issue 5
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          Tan, ASL, Bigman, CA. E-cigarette awareness and perceived harmfulness: prevalence and associations with smoking-cessation outcomes. Am J Prev Med. 2014;47(2):141–149.
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