Knowledge and Beliefs Regarding Harm From Specific Tobacco Products: Findings From the H.I.N.T. Survey

Wenxue Lin, Joshua E. Muscat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Determine whether dual tobacco users have different levels of knowledge about nicotine addiction, perceived harm beliefs of low nicotine cigarettes (LNCs) and beliefs about electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) Design: Quantitative, Cross-sectional Setting: Health Information National Trends Survey 5 (Cycle 3, 2019) Participants: Nationally representative adult non-smokers (n=3113), exclusive cigarette smokers (n=302), and dual (cigarette and e-cigarette) users (n=77). Measures: The survey included single item measures on whether nicotine causes addiction and whether nicotine causes cancer. A five-point Likert scale assessed comparative harm of e-cigarettes and LNCs relative to conventional combustible cigarettes (1=much more harmful, 3=equally harmful…5 = much less harmful, or don’t know). Analysis: We used weighted multiple linear regression model to estimate means and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of e-cigarettes and LNCs beliefs by current tobacco user status. Results: Over 97% of dual users, 83% of non-smokers and 86% of exclusive cigarette smokers correctly identified that nicotine is addictive. The majority of subjects incorrectly identified nicotine as a cause of cancer, with dual users having the lowest proportion of incorrect responses (60%). Dual users rated e-cigarette harmfulness as less harmful than combustibles (mean=2.20; 95% CI=1.73, 2.66) while exclusive cigarette smokers and non-smokers rated them as similarly harmful. LNCs were considered equally harmful and addictive as conventional cigarettes. Conclusion: Dual users had a higher knowledge base of tobacco-related health effects. The effectiveness of policies or medical recommendations to encourage smokers to switch from cigarettes to LNCs or e-cigarettes will need to consider accurate and inaccurate misperceptions about the harm and addictiveness of nicotine. Improved public health messages about different tobacco products are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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