Reasons for starting and stopping electronic cigarette use

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Oct 3;11(10):10345-61. doi: 10.3390/ijerph111010345.


The aim of our study was to explore reasons for starting and then stopping electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use. Among a national sample of 3878 U.S. adults who reported ever trying e-cigarettes, the most common reasons for trying were curiosity (53%); because a friend or family member used, gave, or offered e-cigarettes (34%); and quitting or reducing smoking (30%). Nearly two-thirds (65%) of people who started using e-cigarettes later stopped using them. Discontinuation was more common among those whose main reason for trying was not goal-oriented (e.g., curiosity) than goal-oriented (e.g., quitting smoking) (81% vs. 45%, p < 0.001). The most common reasons for stopping e-cigarette use were that respondents were just experimenting (49%), using e-cigarettes did not feel like smoking cigarettes (15%), and users did not like the taste (14%). Our results suggest there are two categories of e-cigarette users: those who try for goal-oriented reasons and typically continue using and those who try for non-goal-oriented reasons and then typically stop using. Research should distinguish e-cigarette experimenters from motivated users whose decisions to discontinue relate to the utility or experience of use. Depending on whether e-cigarettes prove to be effective smoking cessation tools or whether they deter cessation, public health programs may need distinct strategies to reach and influence different types of users.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / adverse effects
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices
  • United States
  • Young Adult