TUESDAY, July 17, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Most adults perceive nicotine exposure as harmful for children; however, there are differences in perceptions based on sex, racial and/or ethnic background, and tobacco use, according to a study published online July 16 in Pediatrics.

Catherine B. Kemp, B.S.N., from Georgia State University in Atlanta, and colleagues used data drawn from 2015 to 2016 U.S. nationally representative surveys (11,959 participants) to examine whether race, sex, education, tobacco product use, and having a minor child in the home correlate with the level of perceived harmfulness of nicotine to children.

The researchers observed notable subgroup differences, although most respondents characterized nicotine as “definitely harmful” to children. Men had significantly lower odds than women of characterizing nicotine as “definitely harmful” to children. Compared with non-users, tobacco users had significantly lower odds of endorsing “definitely harmful” or “don’t know.” Compared with white individuals, African-American non-Hispanic individuals, Hispanic individuals, and “other” non-Hispanic individuals had significantly lower odds of endorsing “definitely harmful” or “maybe harmful.”

“The results reveal the need for public health efforts to better understand and target inaccurate risk perceptions among specific subgroups,” the authors write.

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