Measuring E-cigarette dependence: Initial guidance

Addict Behav. 2018 Apr:79:213-218. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.11.015. Epub 2017 Nov 22.


E-cigarette use rates are increasing among youth and adults, despite limited knowledge about the safety, risks, and potential for this product in substituting for or reducing other tobacco use. Understanding how to characterize and assess e-cigarette dependence will be important for evaluating the public health impact of e-cigarettes and considering prevention and intervention strategies. To provide an initial review of constructs to consider when assessing e-cigarette dependence, a content expert group within the Tobacco Center for Regulatory Science (TCORS) Measurement Workgroup engaged in a review of published manuscripts and 12 tobacco dependence measures, followed by review of suggested dependence domains by a 10-person external subject-matter expert panel. The final domains selected to be considered in the development of a measure of e-cigarette dependence included: 1) Quantity and frequency of use, 2) Tolerance, 3) Perceived benefits, 4) Withdrawal symptoms, 5) Craving/urge to use, 6) Use despite harm, 7) Impaired control, 8) Automaticity, 9) Preferred over competing rewards, and 10) Sensory dependence. Similarities and differences in potential features of e-cigarette dependence compared with dependence on other tobacco products is discussed. Future work will evaluate these dependence items and constructs in a sample of e-cigarette users with a goal of developing a valid, brief, standardized measure of e-cigarette dependence.

Keywords: Dependence; E-cigarette; Electronic cigarette; Tobacco.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Craving
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Habits
  • Humans
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Vaping*