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Perceptions of Alternative Tobacco Products, Anti-tobacco Media, and Tobacco Regulation among Young Adults: A Qualitative Study

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Objectives

With increased alternative tobacco product (ATP) use and lagging public health action, we explored perceptions of ATPs, anti-tobacco messaging, and tobacco regulation among young adults.

Methods

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 60 Georgia college students aged 18-25 using: (1) cigarettes, little cigars/cigarillos (LCCs), smokeless tobacco, or e-cigarettes ≥15 days of the past 30; or (2) hookah ≥10 of the past 30 days (due to lower frequency of use). Of 99 participants recruited, 80 consented, and 60 participated.

Results

Participants were on average 21.01 years old (SD = 2.07), 56.7% women, and 65.0% black; 56.7% reported current use of cigarettes, 43.3% LCCs, 26.7% smokeless tobacco, 45.0% e-cigarettes, and 41.7% hookah. Cigarettes were perceived as most harmful to health and most addictive. E-cigarettes and hookah were generally regarded as lowest risk. Many indicated that ATP risk information was limited or inaccessible and that most anti-tobacco campaigns were irrelevant to ATPs. Participants requested more research and dissemination of evidence regarding ATP risks and need for ATP regulation.

Conclusions

In light of low risk perceptions regarding ATPs among young adults, research, anti-tobacco campaigns, and regulation must address their known and potential risks.
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Keywords: electronic cigarettes; risk factors; risk perceptions; tobacco use; young adults

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2018

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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