How U.S. adults find out about electronic cigarettes: implications for public health messages

Jessica K Pepper, Sherry L Emery, Kurt M Ribisl, Noel T Brewer
Nicotine & Tobacco Research 2014, 16 (8): 1140-4

INTRODUCTION: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery-powered nicotine delivery systems that have become increasingly popular in the United States. We sought to understand how U.S. adults hear about e-cigarettes.

METHODS: A national sample of 17,522 U.S. adults (≥ 18 years old) completed an online survey in March 2013 assessing their awareness of and sources of information about e-cigarettes.

RESULTS: Most respondents (86%) had heard of e-cigarettes. Current and former smokers were more likely to be aware of e-cigarettes than non-smokers. Males, younger adults, non-Hispanic Whites, and those with higher education were also more likely to have heard of e-cigarettes. The most commonly reported sources of information were another person, ads on television, and seeing e-cigarettes being sold, although the relative frequency of these sources differed for current, former, and never-smokers. Former and current smokers were more likely to have heard about e-cigarettes from e-cigarette users than were never-smokers. Adults age 30 years or younger were more likely than adults older than 30 years to have heard about e-cigarettes online.

CONCLUSIONS: Nearly all U.S. adults had heard of e-cigarettes in 2013. By focusing on the most common channels of information, public health campaigns can more efficiently communicate information about e-cigarette safety and consider necessary regulations should companies use these channels for marketing that targets youth, non-tobacco users, and other at-risk groups.

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