Sociodemographic Differences in the Use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems in the European Union

Nicotine Tob Res. 2016 May;18(5):724-9. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntv215. Epub 2015 Oct 4.


Introduction: Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are rapidly increasing in popularity. However, little is known about sociodemographic differences in use of ENDS. This study aims to assess the sociodemographic characteristics associated with ENDS ever-use and use as a cessation tool in the European Union.

Methods: We analyzed data from the 2012 Eurobarometer wave 77.1, with 25 922 respondents aged 15 years or above from all 27 member states. We estimated the prevalence of ever-use and use as a cessation tool, and performed binary logistic regression to analyze associations with sociodemographic characteristics.

Results: Overall, 7.2% reported having ever used ENDS. Of all smokers who ever tried to quit, 7.0% used ENDS. Ever-use was inversely associated with being older than 34 years (odds ratio [OR] = 0.63, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.51-0.76 for 35-44 years, and OR = 0.34, 95% CI = 0.25-0.46 for at least 65 years), and positively associated with being higher educated (OR = 1.50, 95% CI = 1.22-1.84) or a student (OR = 2.34, 95% CI = 1.77-3.08). ENDS were more often used to quit smoking by students (OR = 2.05, 95% CI = 1.10-3.82), and were less likely to be used by those aged 65 or older (OR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.15-0.61). No significant differences were found according to sex, social class, marital status or type of community.

Conclusions: In 2012, ever-use of ENDS was low in the European population in general. However, younger people or those with a high education used ENDS more frequently. These results indicate a need for more appropriate product information targeted at these groups.

Implications: This study shows that in the European Union in 2012, regular use of ENDS was rare, especially among nonsmokers. Only age and education were strongly associated with ENDS use. The increased prevalence of ever-use among the younger age groups is relevant, as in this age group smoking habits are established. The higher ever-use of ENDS among younger and higher educated people found in this study indicates a need to target appropriate product information, stressing that ENDS use does not imply zero harm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / economics*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • European Union / economics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Cessation / economics
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Social Class*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Nicotine