Perceived relative harm of heated tobacco products and electronic cigarettes and its association with use in smoke-free places: A cross-sectional analysis of Korean adults

Tob Induc Dis. 2022 Feb 21:20:20. doi: 10.18332/tid/145699. eCollection 2022.

Abstract

Introduction: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and heated tobacco products (HTPs) are often considered to be less harmful and safer than combustible cigarettes (CCs). As a result, numerous tobacco product users opt to use e-cigarettes or HTPs as a safer alternative, though the safety of these products is not fully warranted. The present study aimed to assess the various attitudes towards e-cigarettes and/or HTPs among Korean tobacco product users and their associations with the practical use of e-cigarettes and/or HTPs in private or smoke-free public places.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using self-administered questionnaires was conducted from March 2019 to July 2019 on 2971 adult tobacco product users. Attitude towards e-cigarettes and/or HTPs, as well as the relative harm perceptions, in association with their practical use in private or smoke-free areas, were also analyzed.

Results: Among those surveyed, 46.8% were exclusive users (CC-only smokers 23.5%, e-cigarette-only users 10.7%, HTP-only users 12.7%), and 47.6% were poly-users. Compared with non-e-cigarette or non-HTP users, current e-cigarette or HTP users perceived e-cigarettes or HTPs as less harmful than CCs and they were more acceptable to e-cigarettes or HTPs being used indoors. Their positive attitudes were associated with their more frequent use at home or in their car. Less number of participants supported that the government should regulate e-cigarettes or HTPs in the same way as CCs, their attitude being associated with more frequent use in smoke-free public places.

Conclusions: E-cigarettes or HTPs users have more positive attitudes toward their tobacco products than non-e-cigarette or non-HTP users. Those with more positive attitudes toward e-cigarettes or HTPs are closely related to their use in smoke-free places.

Keywords: electronic nicotine delivery devices; non-cigarette tobacco products; secondhand smoke.