Contexts of cigarette and e-cigarette use among dual users: a qualitative study

BMC Public Health. 2015 Sep 4;15:859. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-2198-z.


Background: Not much is currently understood regarding the contexts of cigarette and e-cigarette use among dual users. Proper application of e-cigarettes to smoking cessation or tobacco harm reduction would require an understanding of when and why dual users use cigarettes versus e-cigarettes. This study sought to elucidate the contexts of cigarette versus e-cigarette use among dual users.

Methods: Twelve focus group discussions were conducted with 62 young adult current daily e-cigarette users [63% men; mean age = 25.1 (Standard Deviation = 5.5)]. Almost all participants either concurrently smoked cigarettes or had been recent dual users. Data were analyzed following principles of inductive deduction.

Results: Results indicated that dual users' use of cigarettes is influenced by particular activities (e.g., before/after eating), strong craving or need for stimulation (e.g., in response to stress), places/situations (e.g., when cigarette smokers are nearby; outdoors), use of other substances (alcohol, coffee), and unavailability of an e-cigarette when needed. In addition to particular activities and places/situations that are conducive to e-cigarette use, use of e-cigarette when cigarette is not available or where cigarette smoking is not permitted emerged as contexts specific to e-cigarette use.

Conclusions: For habitual cigarette smokers wanting to quit tobacco smoking, switching over completely to e-cigarettes may require skills of cognitive-behavioral management. Future research needs to ascertain the characteristics of dual users who use e-cigarettes as cessation aids versus as cigarette alternative when cigarette is unavailable or smoking is not permitted.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Tobacco Products / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder
  • Young Adult