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Beliefs About Safety May Spark E-Cigarette Use in Young Adults

Those who believe e-cigarettes are less harmful are more likely to experiment with them

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Young adults who believe that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are less harmful and can help people quit smoking are more likely to try them, according to research published online Jan. 7 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Kelvin Choi, Ph.D., and Jean L. Forster, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, analyzed data from a cohort of 1,379 adults (mean age, 24.1 years) who reported never using e-cigarettes at baseline. The authors sought to assess the association between beliefs about e-cigarettes and subsequent use of this product.

The researchers found that, at one-year follow-up, 7.4 percent of the sample reported ever using e-cigarettes (21.6 percent among baseline current smokers, 11.9 percent among baseline former smokers, and 2.9 percent among baseline nonsmokers). Regardless of baseline smoking status, those who believed at baseline that e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes and can help people quit smoking were significantly more likely to report experimenting with them.

"Given that young adults are still developing their tobacco use behaviors, informing them about the lack of evidence to support e-cigarettes as quit aids and the unknown health risk of e-cigarettes may deter young adults from trying these products," the authors write.

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