To regulate or not to regulate? Views on electronic cigarette regulations and beliefs about the reasons for and against regulation

Ashley Sanders-Jackson, Andy S.L. Tan, Cabral A. Bigman, Susan Mello, Jeff Niederdeppe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Policies designed to restrict marketing, access to, and public use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are increasingly under debate in various jurisdictions in the US. Little is known about public perceptions of these policies and factors that predict their support or opposition. Methods: Using a sample of US adults from Amazon Mechanical Turk in May 2015, this paper identifies beliefs about the benefits and costs of regulating e-cigarettes and identifies which of these beliefs predict support for e-cigarette restricting policies. Results: A higher proportion of respondents agreed with 8 different reasons to regulate e-cigarettes (48.5% to 83.3% agreement) versus 7 reasons not to regulate e-cigarettes (11.5% to 18.9%). The majority of participants agreed with 7 out of 8 reasons for regulation. When all reasons to regulate or not were included in a final multivariable model, beliefs about protecting people from secondhand vapor and protecting youth from trying e-cigarettes significantly predicted stronger support for e-cigarette restricting policies, whereas concern about government intrusion into individual choices was associated with reduced support. Discussion: This research identifies key beliefs that may underlie public support or opposition to policies designed to regulate the marketing and use of e-cigarettes. Advocates on both sides of the issue may find this research valuable in developing strategic campaigns related to the issue. Implications: Specific beliefs of potential benefits and costs of e-cigarette regulation (protecting youth, preventing exposure to secondhand vapor, and government intrusion into individual choices) may be effectively deployed by policy makers or health advocates in communicating with the public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0161124
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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