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Addict Behav. 2019 Apr;91:180-187. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.11.023. Epub 2018 Nov 17.

U.S. adult perceptions of the harmfulness of tobacco products: descriptive findings from the 2013-14 baseline wave 1 of the path study.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada; School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada; Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, ON, Canada.
2
Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, London, ON, Canada; Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, ON, Canada; School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada; Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Electronic address: Tara.EltonMarshall@camh.ca.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada.
4
US Department of Health and Human Services, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
5
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
6
Division of Intramural Research, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Bethesda, MD, USA.
7
Center for Tobacco Products, United States Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD, USA.
8
Department of Health Behavior, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, USA.
9
Westat, Rockville, MD, USA.
10
Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

This study is the first nationally representative survey of U.S. adults (18+) to examine perceptions of the relative harms of eight non-cigarette tobacco products.

METHODS:

Data are from Wave 1 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study Adult Questionnaire, a nationally representative study of 32,320 adults in the United States conducted from September 2013 to December 2014.

RESULTS:

40.7% of adults believed that electronic cigarettes were less harmful than cigarettes, and 17.8% of adults believed that hookah was less harmful than cigarettes. Those less knowledgeable about the health risks of smoking were more likely to believe that the non-cigarette products were less harmful than cigarettes. Current non-cigarette tobacco product users were more likely to perceive that product to be less harmful than cigarettes (except filtered cigars). There was a significant positive correlation between beliefs that cigarettes were harmful and the likelihood of using hookah; perceptions of the harmfulness of cigarettes was not associated with the likelihood of using any other product.

CONCLUSIONS:

Perceptions of harmfulness varied widely across non-cigarette tobacco products. E-cigarettes and hookah in particular are seen as less harmful compared to cigarettes.

KEYWORDS:

Electronic cigarette; Hookah; Perception of harm; Tobacco products

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