Adolescents’ Perceptions of Harmfulness of Tobacco and Tobacco-like Products in Finland

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Abstract

During the recent years, new tobacco and tobacco-like products, e.g., e-cigarettes, have emerged on the market. Adolescents often underestimate health risks in general, including those concerning tobacco. Little is known of adolescents’ perceptions of health risks of the newer products. Our paper compares adolescents’ perceptions of harmfulness of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, snus, water pipes, and nicotine in Finland, a country with a long history of strict tobacco control policy. Online surveys to nationally representative samples of 12–18-year-olds were conducted in 2017 and 2019, with 7578 answering the surveys. Only 3% of boys and 2% of girls did not agree that cigarettes are harmful to health. The percentages were slightly higher for snus (6% and 3%, respectively) and nicotine (12%, 8%) but much higher for e-cigarettes (30%, 22%) and water pipes (36%, 38%). Those who used the product, whose parents were smokers or had lower education, and whose school performance was lower, less often agreed with the harmful health effects of the products. Our results showed that adolescents understood the harmfulness of older tobacco products better than the harmfulness of the newer ones. Our results also showed the need to strengthen health education and fix adolescents’ misperceptions of the health effects of the newer products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1485
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Harmfulness
  • Nicotine
  • Perceptions
  • Smoking
  • Snus
  • Water pipe

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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