Most young adults who have used electronic cigarettes believe they are less harmful than regular cigarettes, according to new research.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices which heat a liquid nicotine to create a vapour which is inhaled. Some e-cigarettes are flavoured and some have been found to contain toxic chemicals.
The devices, portrayed as sexy and fun devices, are marketed as an option to help smokers kick the habit.
The researchers surveyed a random sample of 3,253 adults in September 2013. 8% were young adults ages 18-24 years old and 22% were parents.
Results showed that 13% of parents had tried electronic cigarettes and 6% reported using the devices in the past 30 days.
And 45% of parents who tried electronic cigarettes and 49% who reported using them in the past 30 days had never smoked regular cigarettes or were former smokers.
Parents reported several reasons for using electronic cigarettes: 81% said e-cigarettes might be less harmful than cigarettes to people around them; 76% said e-cigarettes are more acceptable to non-tobacco users; and 72% said they could use the devices in places where smoking cigarettes isn’t allowed.
“This study has two alarming findings,” said lead author associate professor Robert C. McMillen at Mississippi State University.
“First, the risks of e-cigarette use and exposure to vapor are unknown, yet many parents report using these electronic cigarettes to reduce harm to others.
“Second, half of current users are nonsmokers, suggesting that unlike tobacco harm-reduction products, e-cigarettes contribute to primary nicotine addiction and to renormalisation of smoking behaviors.”
The research was presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.
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