Cigarette users' interest in using or switching to electronic nicotine delivery systems for smokeless tobacco for harm reduction, cessation, or novelty: a cross-sectional survey of US adults

Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 Feb;17(2):245-55. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu103. Epub 2014 Jun 20.


Introduction: We examined: (a) current (past 30-day) smokers' interest in using or switching to electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or smokeless tobacco for various reasons; (b) correlates of interest in these products; and (c) subgroups of current smokers in relation to interest in these products.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey assessing sociodemographics, tobacco use, interest in ENDS and smokeless tobacco among smokers, and knowledge about ENDS among 2,501 US adults recruited through an online consumer panel. We oversampled tobacco users (36.7% current cigarette smokers), ethnic minorities, and southeastern US state residents.

Results: On average, participants were more interested in ENDS than smokeless tobacco across all reasons provided. Additionally, they were less interested in either product because of their potential use in places prohibiting smoking or due to curiosity and more interested in reducing health risk or cigarette consumption or to aid in cessation. We documented high rates (27.9%) of misbeliefs about Food and Drug Administration approval of ENDS for cessation, particularly among current smokers (38.5%). Also, 27.2% of current smokers had talked with a health care provider about ENDS, with 18.0% reporting that their provider endorsed ENDS use for cessation. Furthermore, cluster analyses revealed 3 groups distinct in their interest in the products, sociodemographics, and smoking-related characteristics.

Conclusions: This study highlights higher interest in ENDS versus smokeless tobacco and greater interest in both for harm reduction and cessation than due to novelty or smoking restrictions. Developing educational campaigns and informing practitioners about caveats around ENDS as cessation or harm reduction aids are critical.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / psychology
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Harm Reduction*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Nicotine