- The number of Americans who perceived e-cigarettes to be at least as harmful as combustible cigarettes increased significantly between 2012 and 2017, but one-third continue to believe that they are less harmful.
- The number of people who are uncertain about e-cigarette risks decreased during the study period, but remained high.
Why this matters
- Prior studies suggest that risk perception has a significant effect on decisions to use tobacco.
- Participants in the Tobacco Products and Risk Perceptions Surveys (TPRPS) and the Health Information National Trends Surveys (HINTS).
- Funding: NIH; others.
- Perceptions of e-cigarettes compared with combustible cigarettes in 2012 vs 2017 from TPRPS:
- Less harmful: 39.4% vs 33.9%.
- Equally harmful: 11.5% vs 36.4%.
- More harmful: 1.3% vs 4.3%.
- Perceptions of e-cigarettes compared with combustible cigarettes in 2012 vs 2017 from HINTS:
- Less harmful: 50.7% vs 34.5%.
- Equally harmful: 46.4% vs 55.6%.
- More harmful: 2.8% vs 9.9%.
- TPRPS participants who were uncertain of e-cigarette risks decreased from 47.8% in 2012 to 25.3% in 2017.
- Risk perception of e-cigarettes associated with heart and lung disease and cancer may differ from overall perception of harm from e-cigarette use.