e-Cigarettes: Risky Business?
Posted on February 4, 2014
For decades, tobacco use has been one of the premier public health issues in the United States. In spite of years of anti-tobacco education and legislation, as of 2010, more than one quarter of all adults, and more than one third of young adults use tobacco in some form. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are the just the latest in a long line of products for tobacco users. Supplying nicotine through inhaled water vapor rather than actual smoke, e-cigarettes have quickly developed a reputation as a less-harmful alternative to cigarettes and as a helpful smoking cessation aid.
While the addictiveness and long-term effects of e-cigarette use are unknown, there is a widespread belief that e-cigarettes are safer to use than traditional tobacco product. According to a study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, this belief may lead to increased experimentation with e-cigarettes among young adults.
Investigators from the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota studied whether there was a relationship between perceived notions about the harmfulness of e-cigarettes relative to cigarettes and subsequent e-cigarette use among young adults. “Participants who agreed e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking and those who agreed that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes were more likely than those who did not agree to subsequently report experimenting with e-cigarettes. These associations did not vary by gender or smoking status,” says study lead author Kelvin Choi, PhD.
This link between beliefs about e-cigarettes and subsequent experimentation can be used to guide future anti-nicotine and anti-smoking campaigns that encompass the new technology of e-cigarettes.