Use of Heated Tobacco Products (HTP) among university students: Misconceptions and motivations to start smoking
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Sapienza Università di Roma, Rome, Italy
Publication date: 2021-12-10
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2021;7(Supplement):62
The WHO promoted the World No Tobacco Day on May 31st: in that date, the Unit of Tobaccology (UNITAB) of Sapienza University of Rome has carried out a sensibilization campaign on social media.

One of the main aims of the campaign was to inform students about the Heated Tobacco Products (HTP) misconceptions, that is the underestimated dangers of their usage as well as the Tobacco Industry's strategies to make them more appealing to young people. Our aim was to estimate the HTP use among students, and the reasons of its consumption.

We administered a questionnaire to the students who logged into UNITAB Instagram account. Questions were related to the kind of the device smoked, the reasons why they started to use HTP as well as the duration of their habit.

We gathered answers from 157 subjects: among these, 49% were smokers or former smokers, mostly of roll-your-own or normal cigarettes, while only 11% reported the use of e-cigarettes and 25% claimed to use HTP. As for the reasons they started to use HTP, 37% reported it could reduce the health damage, 26% for curiosity and 18,5% to reduce the number of smoked cigarettes. It is interesting to note that only 7,4% tried HTP to quit smoking.

Data suggested that the use of HTP is mostly supported by the false beliefs of the minor impact on the health status. However, from a public health perspective, it is important to spread the message that these products are not healthier than normal cigarettes. Moreover, considering that curiosity led more than 25% of the present students to smoke HTP, future campaigns should target youngsters to fight the marketing strategies of Big Tobacco.

No Conflicts of Interest were reported.