MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jidong Huang, PhD
Department of Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences
School of Public Health, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30303
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The US tobacco market has been transformed in the past decade by a rapid increase in awareness and use of e-cigarettes among youth and adults.
This transformation has been accelerated in recent years by the emergence of new generations of e-cigarettes, such as JUUL e-cigarettes. The exponential growth in e-cigarettes has prompted a renewed interest in the tobacco harm reduction approach, which aims to rapidly curbing the smoking epidemic by encouraging smokers to switch to low risk tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes. There is an ongoing debate about whether the scientific evidence on the health risks of e-cigarettes in comparison with combustible cigarettes has been accurately communicated to the public. Large representative surveys are needed to examine how the public perceives the health risk of e-cigarettes and how their perception change over time.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The proportion of U.S. adults who perceived e-cigarettes to be more harmful than cigarettes more than tripled from 2012 to 2017. During the same period, the percentage of U.S. adults who perceived e-cigarettes to be equally as harmful as cigarettes also increased significantly. Compared to cigarette smokers, e-cigarette users are more likely to perceive e-cigarettes as less harmful than cigarettes. However, even among e-cigarette users, the percentage of those who perceived e-cigarettes to be more harmful than cigarettes increased significantly from 2012 to 2017.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: An increasing number of American adults believe e-cigarettes are as or more harmful to health than cigarettes. In addition, a quarter of American adults were still uncertain about how e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes compare with regard to health risks in 2017.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Research is needed to understand why more American adults believe e-cigarettes are as or more harmful to health than cigarettes, and how this changing perception may affect use of e-cigarettes among adult smokers. The results of this study also underscore the urgent need for accurate communication of the scientific evidence on the health risks of e-cigarettes to American public, and the importance of differentiating the products’ absolute harm from their relative harm compared to cigarettes.
Disclosures: This study was supported by a grant (Number P50DA036128) from NIH, National Institute of Drug Abuse and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIH or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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