THURSDAY, June 9, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Between 2019 and 2020, there was an increase in the perception of electronic cigarettes as more harmful than cigarettes, according to a study published online June 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Priti Bandi, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from a cross-sectional nationally representative Health Information National Trends Survey collected in 2018, 2019, and 2020 to estimate changes in relative harm perceptions of e-cigarettes versus cigarettes. For each relative harm perception level, changes in exclusive cigarette smoking, exclusive e-cigarette use, and dual use were estimated.

The researchers found that year-on-year, the perceptions of e-cigarettes as “more harmful” than cigarettes doubled, increasing most between 2019 and 2020 (6.8, 12.8, and 28.3 percent in 2018, 2019, and 2020, respectively); there was a decrease in uncertainty in relative harm (38.2, 34.2, and 24.7 percent, respectively). The relative perceptions of “less harmful” decreased (17.6, 15.3, and 11.4 percent, respectively), while perceptions of “as harmful” remained stable (37.4, 37.7, and 35.6 percent). Between 2019 and 2020, exclusive cigarette smoking increased among those who perceived e-cigarettes as relatively “more harmful” (18.5, 8.4, and 16.3 percent, respectively); exclusive e-cigarette use increased among those who perceived them as relatively “less harmful” (7.9, 15.3, and 26.7 percent, respectively), while in those who perceived them relatively “as harmful,” dual use increased (0.1, 1.4, and 2.9 percent, respectively).

“Increases in cigarette smoking and e-cigarette use prevalence occurred primarily in individuals who perceived their preferred product as relatively less harmful,” Bandi said in a statement.

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