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Have E-cigarette Risk Perception and Cessation Intent of Young Adult Users Changed During the Pandemic?

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Objectives: Emerging evidence indicates that young adults who use e-cigarettes can withhold greater exposure to COVID-19 risk. We examine how young e-cigarette users perceive COVID-19 related threat of e-cigarette use and benefit of cessation as compared to traditional ones, applying the health belief model. We investigate changes of such perceptions during the pandemic and their associations with past attempt and future intent to quit e-cigarette use. Methods: We collected responses from US young adults (aged 18-25) who have used e-cigarettes in the past month by conducting 2 waves of online surveys in 2020 (wave 1, N=165) and 2021 (wave 2, N=347). Results: Young e-cigarette users in wave 2 reported greater estimates of COVID-19 and traditional threat as well as COVID-19 and traditional benefit of quitting than wave 1. However, we also found significant increases of e-cig dependence, perceived barriers of quitting, and the percentage of young e-cigarette users (33%) who had never attempted to quit in the past month. Importantly, a COVID-19 benefit of cessation and efficacy of quitting were significantly associated with cessation intent. Conclusions: Ongoing efforts are required to track post-pandemic e-cigarette risk perceptions and behaviors, as well as to identify strategies to mitigate increased dependence and usage of e-cigarettes.

Keywords: CESSATION; COVID-19; E-CIGARETTES; HEALTH BELIEF MODEL; RISK PERCEPTION

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Jungmi Jun, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, College of Information and Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, United States;, Email: [email protected] 2: Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, College of Information and Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, United States 3: Ali Zain, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, College of Information and Communications University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, United States 4: Nanlan Zhang, School of Journalism and Communication, Chongqing University, Chongqing, China

Publication date: June 1, 2022

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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.

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