Risk Perceptions of Low Nicotine Cigarettes and Alternative Nicotine Products across Priority Smoking Populations

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 May 17;18(10):5311. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18105311.


Background: As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers a low nicotine product standard for cigarettes, it is important to examine how people who smoke, especially individuals from priority populations disproportionately affected by smoking, perceive low nicotine content (LNC) cigarettes and their relative risk perceptions of alternative nicotine delivery system (ANDS) products, including e-cigarettes and snus, and medicinal nicotine.

Methods: Data are from Wave 4 (2016-2017) of the adult Population Assessment of Tobacco Use and Health (PATH) Study. We examined respondents' absolute risk perceptions about nicotine, LNC cigarettes, ANDS products and medicinal nicotine; their relative risk perceptions of LNC cigarettes and ANDS products compared to conventional cigarettes; and their relative risk perceptions of medicinal nicotine compared to ANDS products.

Results: The majority of respondents across priority smoking populations indicated snus, e-cigarettes, and LNC cigarettes were 'about the same' level of harmfulness or addictiveness as conventional cigarettes. The majority of respondents indicated e-cigarettes to be 'about the same' harmfulness as medicinal nicotine.

Conclusions: Our study indicates that adults who smoke cigarettes generally have misperceptions about the harms of nicotine and the relative risks of ANDS products and such misperceptions exist regardless of their racial/ethnic identity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Keywords: LGBTQ+; e-cigarettes; ethnicity; low nicotine cigarettes; nicotine; race; risk perceptions; snus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicotine
  • Perception
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco Products*


  • Nicotine