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Perception of Nicotine Harms to Children Vary by Gender and Racial Subgroups


Although previous studies have looked at adults’ perceptions of the risks of secondhand smoke to infants and children, there has been little research on how adults perceive the harms of nicotine (including cigarettes, cigarette butts, cigars, hookahs, chewing tobacco, snuff, and e-liquids) to children.  A study appearing in the August 2018 issue of Pediatrics, “Adults’ Perceptions of Nicotine Harm to Children,” (published online July 16) is among the first to examine these perceptions and identify adults who may be less likely to understand these risks.  Researchers reviewed responses from 11,959 adults who contributed to U.S. nationally representative surveys in 2015 and 2016. While a majority of respondents agreed that nicotine is harmful to children, men and tobacco users were less likely to characterize nicotine as definitely harmful to children. Black non-Hispanics and Hispanics were also less likely to agree that nicotine was definitely harmful or maybe harmful for children than whites. The authors conclude that the results of this study highlight the need for public health efforts to better understand and target inaccurate risk perceptions among specific genders and racial groups and that these findings can guide future research, inform policy, and support public health educational interventions.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds