E-cigarette Use and Beliefs Among Urban Public High School Students in North Carolina

J Adolesc Health. 2015 Jul;57(1):46-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.03.018.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence, attitudes, and risk factors associated with electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use among high school students in tobacco growing state.

Methods: A 47-item e-cigarette questionnaire modeled after Monitoring the Future with additional information about demographics, adolescent and family nicotine use, and school and health care interventions was designed, piloted, and administered to public high school students (N = 3,298) in May 2013, in an urban county in North Carolina.

Results: Completers (2,769/3,298) were aged 16.4 years (standard deviation ± 1.4) with 48.9% males and 43.9% African-American, 38% white, and 4.6% Hispanics. The majority (77.3%) knew about e-cigarettes; 15.2% reported that they had tried an e-cigarette, and 60% reported that e-cigarettes were safe or had minimal health hazards. Only 5.4% reported that schools had offered information about e-cigarette use. One quarter (24.9%) reported ever cigarette smoking, and 13.3% reported ever using smokeless tobacco. E-cigarette use was positively associated with older age, tobacco use, male gender, Caucasian race, mother's e-cigarette use, biological parents' tobacco use, and lower academic performance, whereas negatively associated with having a mother who never used e-cigarettes, not knowing any e-cigarette users, and living with mother (p < .05).

Conclusions: E-cigarette use and awareness is evident among high school students in North Carolina. A high number of smokers and smokeless tobacco users are using e-cigarettes simultaneously, and many perceive e-cigarettes as healthy and with minimal health hazards. Also, there is limited school-based education about e-cigarettes.

Keywords: Adolescents; E-cigarettes; Nicotine; Smoking; Students.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / psychology*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population* / statistics & numerical data