HealthDay — Most Americans are aware of electronic cigarettes, and about half believe they are less harmful than regular cigarettes, according to researchers.

“Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are increasingly advertised as replacements for regular cigarettes or cessation aids for smokers,” wrote Andy S.L. Tan, MBBS, MPH, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

To assess the prevalence of e-cigarette awareness and the correlation in perceived harmfulness, researchers used data from the Health Information National Trends Survey conducted from October 2012 to January 2013. The inspectors examined whether awareness and perceived harmfulness correlated with smokers’ past-year quit attempts and intention to quit.

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Of the 77% of respondents who were aware of e-cigarettes, 51% believed e-cigarettes were less harmful than other cigarettes. E-cigarette awareness was more likely among younger, white patients versus Hispanic patients, more educated respondents, and among current or former smokers versus non-smokers.

Among the 77% of respondents, those who were more likely to believe that e-cigarettes were less harmful included younger respondents, more educated respondents, and current smokers (versus former and non-smokers). There was no association for awareness and perceived harm with smoker’s past-year quit attempts or intentions to quit.

“Awareness and perceived harm of e-cigarettes did not show evidence of promoting smoking cessation at the population level,” concluded the authors.


  1. Tan A et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2014; doi: