Led by Dr. Matthew Rossheim at the George Mason University College of Health and Human Services, the study titled, “Aerosol, vapor, or chemicals? College student perceptions of harm from electronic cigarettes and support for a tobacco-free campus policy,” indicated the different harm perceptions brought about by the different terms.
Calling the devices “e-cigarettes” instead of “vapes,” suggests a similarity to regular cigarettes, and therefore leads many to wrongly compare vaping to smoking, even though there is no combustion of tobacco involved.
The research team analysed the responses of 791 students with regards to the terms aerosol, vapour, or chemicals. The compiled data indicated that undergraduate students were more likely to perceive secondhand exposure to e-cig emissions harmful when the terms ‘chemicals’ or ‘aerosols’ were used rather than vapour.
“Compared to the “vapor” condition, “chemicals” and “aerosol” conditions were associated with increased odds of perceiving secondhand exposure to e-cigarettes to be harmful/very harmful (AOR = 2.0, p < 0.01),” read the study Abstract.
To this effect, concluded the researchers, campuses should use this terminology as part of teen vaping prevention programs. “Health campaigns should use accurate terminology to describe e-cigarette emissions, rather than jargon that conveys lower risk.”
Using the correct terminology
On the other hand, an earlier report had highlighted the importance of referring to vaping products/electronic devices as “vapes” rather than “e-cigarettes”. The most commonly used label “e-cigarettes” suggests a similarity to regular cigarettes, and therefore leads many to wrongly compare vaping to smoking, even though there is no combustion of tobacco involved.
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