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Beliefs about E-cigarettes: A Focus Group Study with College Students

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Objectives: In this study, we consider how best to prevent recreational uptake of e-cigarettes among tobacco nonusers; it is important to investigate the underlying beliefs that young adults have about e-cigarettes and package elements. Methods: Using the focus group method of belief elicitation, we explore underlying belief structures that undergraduate students at a large Midwestern public university have about e-cigarettes. Beliefs are analyzed using the constantcomparative approach and categorized using the theory of planned behavior. Results: Participants describe a dual view, wherein e-cigarettes are a cool and causal item to use at a party, while holding a negative stigma toward everyday use. They acknowledged confusion over nicotine and focused on the flavors and smoke tricks as attractions to the product. In response to package elements, participants describe the flavors and modified risk statement as undermining the health warning. Conclusions: Findings suggest it may be useful to supplement the required warning labels with a public education campaign that improves understanding of nicotine and to regulate the amount of nicotine permissible in e-cigarettes in order to prevent addiction in recreational users, while at the same time supporting use of the product for smoking cessation.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; sjkatz@umn. edu 2: MA student, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 3: Senior Research Fellow, Masonic Cancer Center Biostat Core, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 4: Director, Tobacco Research Programs, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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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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