Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Health Promotion

First Advisor

Allison Ford-Wade

Second Advisor

Ovuokerie Addoh


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



ABSTRACT Background: Accompanying the decline in cigarette smoking rates has been a rise in prevalence of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use. The ongoing investigations on the health impact of e-cigarettes have been accompanied by mixed messages and a lack of consensus which may lead college students to rely on their own perceptions of risk and benefits in deciding whether to use e-cigarettes. Conclusion: Considering the significant association of perceived risks and benefits with e-cigarette and cigarette use this study yields some findings that show the importance of appropriately addressing perceptions. It is paramount to keep the public updated on pertinent research findings on e-cigarettes as this could influence the development of well-guided perceptions. Approximately half of the participants gave the maximum rating for the perceived overall harm of cigarettes highlighting that the adverse effects of cigarettes have been well disseminated. On the other hand the more widespread distribution for perceptions on e-cigarettes mirrors the mixed messages regarding e-cigarettes. It is imperative for health professionals to have a clear message regarding the absolute safety of e-cigarettes. In addition we recommend the introduction of lessons on e-cigarettes into health-related curricula in schools. Methods: Using a cross-sectional study design the association between the independent variables (perceived risks and benefits) and the dependent variables (e-cigarette use and cigarette smoking status) were assessed using logistic regression models. Perceptions of overall harm of e-cigarettes were grouped into quartiles (Q 1-4) ranging from lowest to highest and the perception of overall harm of cigarettes were classified into two groups (Group 1- perception scores <100 and Group 2- perception scores= 100). Statistical significance was set at α=0.05. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between perceived risks/ benefits and e-cigarette use/cigarette smoking among college age students. Knowledge on the relationship between risk and benefit perceptions and e-cigarette use/cigarette smoking will provide a foundation for health-related professionals and programs to understand how the current literature on e-cigarettes is interpreted among college students and inform intervention strategies. Results: Among 1011 participants in this study 63.9% had used an e-cigarette at least once and 34.8% were current users of e-cigarettes. About half (50.6%) of the participants in this study had used a cigarette at least once while 16.1% of the participants were current cigarette smokers. Compared to Q4 participants in Q1 had 8.29 times the odds (OR 8.29 95% CI 4.69-14.64 p<.001) and Q2 had 2.18 times the odds (OR 2.18 95% CI 1.38-3.43 p<.01) of e-cigarette ever-use. Compared to participants who rated their perceived overall harm of cigarettes as 100 those who had ratings of less than 100 had almost a 2-fold increase in odds for ever-use of cigarettes (OR 1.97 95% CI 1.43-2.70 p< .001).

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