BACKGROUND: Given the changing landscape of tobacco products in recent years, the array of products through which children could be exposed to nicotine has grown substantially. Thus, it is particularly important to understand adults’ perceptions of the harms of nicotine to children and to identify any sociodemographic factors related to inaccurate risk perceptions.
METHODS: Data were drawn from 2015 to 2016 US nationally representative surveys (n = 11 959). Using multinomial logistic regression analyses, we examined whether race, sex, education, tobacco product use, and having a minor child in the home are associated with the level of perceived harmfulness of nicotine to children.
RESULTS: Although the majority of respondents characterized nicotine as “definitely harmful” to children, there were notable subgroup differences. Compared with women, men had significantly lower odds of characterizing nicotine as “definitely harmful” to children. Tobacco product users had significantly lower odds of endorsing “definitely harmful” or “don’t know” than nonusers. African American non-Hispanic individuals, Hispanic individuals, and “other” non-Hispanic individuals had significantly lower odds of endorsing “definitely harmful” or “maybe harmful” than white individuals.
CONCLUSIONS: Although most adults perceive nicotine exposure as harmful for children, there are important differences based on sex, racial and/or ethnic background, and tobacco use status. The results reveal the need for public health efforts to better understand and target inaccurate risk perceptions among specific subgroups.
- Accepted May 1, 2018.
- Copyright © 2018 by the American Academy of Pediatrics