Aerosol, vapor, or chemicals? College student perceptions of harm from electronic cigarettes and support for a tobacco-free campus policy


This study is the first to examine the influence of e-cigarette emission phrasing on perceived harm of secondhand exposure, and whether harm perception was associated with support for a tobacco-free campus policy. Participants: In the fall 2018 and spring 2019 semesters, 52 sections of a college English course (N = 791 students) were cluster randomized to one of three conditions (“vapor,” “aerosol,” or “chemicals”) assessing harm of secondhand exposure to e-cigarette emissions. Methods: Regression models adjusted for demographic characteristics, tobacco use, and other potential confounders. Results: Compared to the “vapor” condition, “chemicals” and “aerosol” conditions were associated with increased odds of perceiving secondhand exposure to e-cigarettes to be harmful/very harmful (AOR = 2.0, p < 0.01). Greater perceived harm of secondhand e-cigarette exposure was associated with increased odds of supporting a tobacco-free campus policy (AOR = 2.22, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Health campaigns should use accurate terminology to describe e-cigarette emissions, rather than jargon that conveys lower risk.

Authors: Matthew E Rossheim, Xiaoquan Zhao, Eric K Soule, Dennis L Thombs, Sumihiro Suzuki, Asra Ahmad, Tracey E Barnett
; Full Source: Journal of American college health : J of ACH 2020 Sep 15;1-7. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2020.1819293.