(HealthDay News) — Most U.S. adults are aware of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and about half believe they are less harmful than cigarettes, according to a study published online April 29 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Andy S.L. Tan, MBBS, MPH, PhD, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Cabral A. Bigman, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, used data from the Health Information National Trends Survey conducted from October 2012 to January 2013 to describe the prevalence and correlates of e-cigarette awareness and perceived harmfulness. They also examined whether awareness and perceived harmfulness correlated with smokers’ past-year quit attempts and intention to quit.

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The researchers found that more than three-quarters (77% of respondents were aware of e-cigarettes, half (51%) of whom believed that e-cigarettes were less harmful than cigarettes. 

Awareness of e-cigarettes was more likely among younger, white versus Hispanic, and more educated respondents, and among current or former smokers versus nonsmokers. Of those who were aware of e-cigarettes, those who were more likely to believe that e-cigarettes were less harmful included younger respondents, more educated respondents, and current smokers (vs. former and nonsmokers). 

There was no association for awareness and perceived harm with smokers’ past-year quit attempts or intention to quit.

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


  1. Tan ASL, Bigman CA. E-Cigarette Awareness and Perceived Harmfulness. Am J Prev Med. 2014;doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2014.02.011.