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Young adults believe hookah, e-cigs are safer than cigarettes

SAGE

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IMAGE: Note. AOR = adjusted odds ratio; CL = confidence interval; HS = high school. Prevalence p values are for Rao-Scott chi-square test of covariate by binomial risk perception; AOR p values... view more

Credit: Olivia A. Wackowski, PhD, MPH, and Cristine D. Delnevo, PhD, MPH

Los Angeles, CA (August 24, 2015) Many college students are making their way back to campus this month, and back to the habits - good or bad - that dorm-life promotes. A new study finds that young adults under 25, including high school grads and college students, are more likely to rate hookah and e-cigarettes as safer than cigarettes, when compared to 25 to 34-year-olds. This research was published today in Health Education & Behavior, a Society of Public Health Education journal published by SAGE.

Studying data from 2,871 smoking and nonsmoking young adults, ages 18-34, Dr. Olivia A. Wackowski and Dr. Cristine D. Delnevo found that a quarter of young adults believed hookah to be less risky than cigarettes - a belief shared by current cigarette smokers and those who had never smoked cigarettes before.

"This is concerning as it suggests that even a substantial proportion of nonsmokers may view hookah as being a relatively safer and acceptable way to use tobacco," the researchers wrote.

The researchers also found the following:

  • 62.1% of young adults ages 18 to 24 believed that e-cigarettes were less risky than cigarettes, while 54.6% of 25 to 34-year-olds believed e-cigarettes to be less risky. Additionally, 32.7% of 18 to 24-year-olds believed hookah to be less risky than cigarettes, while 18.5% of 25 to 34-year-olds believed hookah to be less risky.

  • 57.8% of respondents believed e-cigarettes to be less risky than cigarettes and 11.4% said they were unsure.

  • 50% of respondents said that methanol cigarettes, hookah, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and snus were about as risky as cigarettes.

  • 30% of all respondents believed that smokeless tobacco, menthol cigarettes, and cigars were more risky than cigarettes.

  • 24.5% of respondents reported that hookah is less risky than cigarettes, which was equally prevalent for both cigarette smokers and nonsmokers.

  • 31.2% of respondents reported that they had smoked at least 100 cigarettes before and smoked regularly at the time of the survey.

"This might be associated with differences in advertising messages these groups are exposed to, the variety of flavors these different products are offered in, and in the case of e-cigarettes, possibly an inclination for younger people to attribute more positive feelings toward newer products that are seen as new and 'techy'," commented the study authors.

The study authors also found that the belief that some tobacco products were riskier than cigarettes did not stop people from using them. They speculated that promoting other tobacco products, such as snus, as safer may not encourage smokers to switch products but instead encourage new product uptake for both smokers and nonsmokers.

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Find out more by reading the full article, "Young Adults' Risk Perceptions of Various Tobacco Products Relative to Cigarettes: Results From the National Young Adult Health Survey." For an embargoed copy of the full text, please email camille.gamboa@sagepub.com.

SAGE Founded 50 years ago by Sara Miller McCune to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community, SAGE publishes more than 850 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. A growing selection of library products includes archives, data and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company's continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC. http://www.sagepub.com

About Society for Public Health Education

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) is a non-profit professional organization founded in 1950 to provide global leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion and to promote the health of society. SOPHE's 4,000 international and chapter members work in various public and private organizations to advance health education theory and research, develop disease prevention and health promotion programs, and promote public policies conducive to health. For more information, see http://www.sophe.org Health Education & Behavior is the official publication of Society for Public Health Education

Contact: (US) Camille Gamboa Camille.gamboa@sagepub.co.uk / Tel: 805-410-7441

(UK) Katie Baker katie.baker@sagepub.co.uk / Tel: +44 (0)20 7324 8719

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