The perceptions and beliefs of tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the millennial generation
Boyle, Ellen M.
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Cigarettes have been a staple of society for hundreds of years; only 60 years ago did the world begin to realize the damage they cause. In the following decades, the U.S. government poured money into anti-smoking campaigns and enacted new legislation that would help educate the American people on the risks of smoking. These efforts had promising results; as of the early 2010s, smoking levels continued to decrease. However, within the past ten years, the rise of electronic cigarettes surprised public health officials by providing a novel delivery system for nicotine, and creating a new set of consequences. E-cigarettes caught the attention of the nation’s youth, resulting in a headline-worthy “vaping epidemic.” In response, multiple studies were conducted to try to understand the draw and effects of e-cigarettes on adolescents. These projects ranged from national surveys to individual interviews, all aimed at teenagers and young adults. As a result, there is now literature that provides information regarding perceptions and beliefs of youth towards to e-cigarettes. Social considerations (competitions with blowing smoke rings, fitting in with a crowd, feeling cool) were some of the most important to participants, across multiple studies. Other considerations, such as stress relief, the buzz from nicotine, and the multiple flavor options, also played roles in whether an individual chose to use e-cigarettes. Most of these studies focus on adolescents and young adults, leaving the millennial generation (those born between 1981 – 1996) largely excluded from the current research. This gap in the literature is a notable one, as millennials are an ever-growing force in American society. To that end, this paper proposes a mixed-method study to discover the motivations, perceptions, and beliefs of millennials towards e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes. It will consist of an initial survey to a large population, with a second stage of individual interviews with a select number of participants. By using different methods of data collection, the goal is to gain both large amounts of data on general positions, as well as understand the nuance of opinions through interviews. This study hopes to contribute to the body of literature for e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes, with a focus on the millennial generation. This subsection of the US population is one that will have increasing influence in the years to come, and so understanding its perceptions and beliefs of tobacco and e-cigarettes will be vital for future public health efforts.