Harm Perception and Attitudes towards E-cigarette Use Among Qatar University Students: A Cross-Sectional Study
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Background: Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is becoming popular worldwide especially among youth. Research reported that university students have poor knowledge and misconceptions about the health risks of e-cigarettes, which may lead students to use them even in populations where prevalence of cigarette smoking is relatively low. At this age, the influence of peers is also significant. In this study, we assessed the prevalence of e-cigarette use among university students as well as their knowledge and attitudes towards e-cigarettes. Methodology: We conducted a cross-sectional study among Qatar University students using a self-administered online questionnaire. Descriptive univariate analysis of all variables was conducted as well as a bivariate analysis to check the association of e-cigarette use with selected variables. A binary logistic regression was conducted to assess predictors of e-cigarette use. Results: The prevalence of e-cigarette use among students was found to be 14% where 32% of them were daily users. Approximately 42% of the participants agreed that ‘e-cigarettes are less harmful to health compared to traditional cigarettes, and 45.7% of them agreed that ‘e-cigarettes can prevent smoking traditional cigarettes. The prevalence of e-cigarettes use was 16.2% among males and 12.8% among females, which showed no significant difference between the two genders. Females were more likely to use e-cigarettes because they “don’t smell” (P-value=0.023). The study showed a significant association between e-cigarette use and knowledge items (P-value < 0.05) and having a smoker among siblings or friends. At the multivariate analysis level, only the friends’ effect remained significant after controlling for the other variables (OR= 7.3, P-value=0.000). Conclusion: Our research found that university students have inadequate knowledge and misconceptions in regards to e-cigarettes use, especially among users. Effective smoking prevention policy and educational interventions are needed to enhance awareness among university students about the health effects associated with e-cigarettes use.