Perceptions about e-cigarette safety may lead to e-smoking during pregnancy

Selina Baeza-Loya, Humsini Viswanath, Asasia Carter, David L. Molfese, Kenia M. Velasquez, Philip R. Baldwin, Daisy G.Y. Thompson-Lake, Carla Sharp, James Chris Fowler, Richard de la Garza, Ramiro Salas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are nicotine-delivery devices that are increasingly used, especially by young people. Because e-cigarettes lack many of the substances found in regular tobacco, they are often perceived as a safer smoking alternative, especially in high-risk situations such as pregnancy. However, studies suggest that it is exposure to nicotine that is most detrimental to prenatal development. The authors studied perceptions of tobacco and e-cigarette health risks using a multiple-choice survey. To study the perceived safety of e-cigarettes versus tobacco cigarettes, 184 modified Global Health Youth Surveys (WHO, http://www.who. int/tobacco/surveillance/gyts/en/) were completed electronically or on paper. Age range, smoking status, and perceptions about tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes were studied. The results verified that younger people use e-cigarettes more than older people. Tobacco cigarettes were perceived as more harmful than e-cigarettes to health in general, including lung cancer and pregnancy. Although more research is necessary, the authors postulate that the perception that e-cigarettes are safer during pregnancy may induce pregnant women to use these devices more freely. Given that nicotine is known to cause fetal harm, pregnant mothers who smoke e-cigarettes could cause even greater harm to the fetus because e-cigarettes are perceived as being safer than tobacco cigarettes. Until more data about the effects of nicotine during pregnancy are available, the authors advocate for labeling of e-cigarettes as potentially harmful, at least during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-252
Number of pages10
JournalBulletin of the Menninger Clinic
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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