Perceptions of harm from electronic-cigarette use among a sample of US Navy personnel
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Department of Aviation Medicine, Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Directorate of Public Health Services, US Naval Hospital Okinawa, Okinawa, Japan
Navy Entomology Center of Excellence, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Matthew T. Hall   

UNC School of Medicine, 590 Manning Drive Chapel Hill, NC 27599, United States
Publish date: 2017-10-26
Submission date: 2017-04-04
Final revision date: 2017-10-04
Acceptance date: 2017-10-09
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2017;3(October):128
Scant information exists on the perceptions and behaviors surrounding electronic cigarette (EC) use in the U.S. military. The Health Belief Model (HBM) enables factors influencing behavior adoption to be assessed. Utilizing this model, this study explored five EC-related perceptions among a sample of active-duty Navy personnel.

Participants were invited to complete a questionnaire involving EC use and perceptions. Demographics were reported and perceptions assessed using multiple choice and answer questions. Analyses included benefit and harm ratios and non-parametric tests.

Among the 977 participants, 29.7% tried ECs, 9.5% were current users and 3.8% were dual users. A large proportion of the population believed that ECs were less harmful than cigarettes, the safest alternative to cigarettes, accepted by non-users, and allowed in areas where cigarettes are prohibited. On the other hand, the majority believed that ECs did not make the user look cool or fit in and were not safe to use around children. EC users, cigarette smokers, men, those under 30 years of age, and those with less than a bachelor degree were more likely to have positive beliefs and perceptions about EC use.

The majority of the population studied has negative perceptions and beliefs about EC use. Several groups have beliefs that highlight vulnerabilities to EC experimentation and use. The findings illustrated concepts related to cessation and behavior adoption, harm-to-self and second-hand vapor, and smoke-free zones. These findings may help to identify motivations for experimentation and use, as well as to direct future EC intervention and prevention efforts.

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