As more information becomes available regarding electronic cigarettes, more Americans are perceiving them “to be as harmful as regular cigarettes,” according to a survey on health attitudes.
Information was taken from the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) and showed changes in attitudes regarding e-cigarettes between 2012 and 2014. In the earlier surveys about three-fourths of participants knew about e-cigarettes, compared to about 95% in 2014. In 2012 50.7% of the participants considered them “to be less harmful than regular cigarettes,” while in 2014 that number had dropped to 43.1%.
The authors of the survey noted that e-cigarettes were introduced in the U.S. market in 2007 and while smoking rates were in a decline, e-cigarette use “increased dramatically.” From 2009 to 2014 “e-cigarette market share for all tobacco products more than doubled each year.” As the major tobacco companies introduced their own e-cigarette products, the marketing increased, often with the message that “e-cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes.”
From each year between 2012 and 2014, the “awareness of e-cigarettes increased from 77.1% in 2012 to 85.4% in 2013 to 94.3% in 2014.” Respondents with a higher income level or a college education were “more likely to believe” that e-cigarettes were less harmful.
The FDA has recently begun regulations of e-cigarettes believing they “represent a risk to the public.” It will be interesting to see if the public sides with the FDA or whether they see the devices as less harmful compared to combustible cigarettes.
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