Beliefs and experimentation with electronic cigarettes: a prospective analysis among young adults

Am J Prev Med. 2014 Feb;46(2):175-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.10.007.


Background: Previous cross-sectional studies found that positive beliefs about electronic nicotine delivery systems (commonly known as electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes) were associated with use of these products. However, the prospective association between these beliefs and subsequent use of e-cigarettes is unclear.

Purpose: To identify the beliefs predicting subsequent use of e-cigarettes.

Methods: A total of 1379 young adults (mean age=24.1 years) from the Minnesota Adolescent Community Cohort who reported never using e-cigarettes at baseline (collected Oct 2010-Mar 2011) and completed follow-up data collection (during Oct 2011-Mar 2012) were included in this analysis. Participants' beliefs about e-cigarettes (potential as quit aids, harmfulness and addictiveness relative to cigarettes) were asked at baseline (yes/no). At follow-up, participants were asked if they had ever used e-cigarettes. Logistic regression models were used to assess the associations between beliefs about e-cigarettes and subsequent experimentation. Analysis was conducted in 2012.

Results: At follow-up, 7.4% of the sample reported ever using e-cigarettes (21.6% among baseline current smokers, 11.9% among baseline former smokers, and 2.9% among baseline nonsmokers). Participants who believed e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking and perceived e-cigarettes to be less harmful than cigarettes at baseline were more likely to report experimenting with e-cigarettes at follow-up (p<0.05). These associations did not differ by smoking status.

Conclusions: Given that young adults are still developing their tobacco use behaviors, informing them about the lack of evidence to support e-cigarettes as quit aids and the unknown health risk of e-cigarettes may deter young adults from trying these products.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Electronics
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult