Young adult e-cigarette users' reasons for liking and not liking e-cigarettes: A qualitative study

Psychol Health. 2015;30(12):1450-69. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2015.1061129. Epub 2015 Jul 15.


Objective: To gain an in-depth understanding of what young adult electronic- or e-cigarette users like or dislike about e-cigarettes. We aimed to determine the reasons that may encourage young adults to use e-cigarettes or discourage them from using e-cigarettes.

Design: Twelve focus group discussions were conducted with 62 current daily e-cigarette users (63% men) of mean age = 25.1 years (standard deviation = 5.5). Data were analysed following principles of inductive content analysis.

Results: Results indicated 12 categories of reasons for liking e-cigarettes (e.g., recreation, smoking cessation) and 6 categories of reasons for not liking e-cigarettes (e.g. poor product quality, poor smoking experience).

Conclusions: Young adults' motives for using or not using e-cigarettes appear to be varied and their relative importance in terms of predicting e-cigarette use initiation, dependence, and cigarette/e-cigarette dual use needs to be carefully studied in population-based, empirical studies. The current findings suggest that e-cigarettes may serve social, recreational, and sensory expectancies that are unique relative to cigarettes and not dependent on nicotine. Further, successful use of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation will likely need higher standards of product quality control, better nicotine delivery efficiency and a counselling component that would teach smokers how to manage e-cigarette devices while trying to quit smoking cigarettes.

Keywords: electronic cigarette; motives; qualitative; smoking; young adults.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / psychology*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Qualitative Research
  • Recreation
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Young Adult