The Role of Knowledge and Risk Beliefs in Adolescent E-Cigarette Use: A Pilot Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Apr 23;15(4):830. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15040830.


The use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices among adolescents is an urgent public health problem due to the concern about adolescent exposure to nicotine. This study examined: (1) adolescents’ knowledge and beliefs about e-cigarette risks; and (2) whether knowledge and risk beliefs were associated with e-cigarette use. N = 69 adolescents completed a cross-sectional survey about e-cigarette knowledge, attitudes (i.e., risk beliefs), and behavior (KAB). Nearly half (47%) of the sample reported ever using e-cigarettes. The majority of adolescents knew about many of the risks of e-cigarettes, with no differences between never- and ever-users. However, risk beliefs, such as worrying about health risks of using e-cigarettes, varied across groups. Compared to never-users, e-cigarette ever-users were significantly less likely to worry about e-cigarette health risks, less likely to think that e-cigarettes would cause them negative health consequences, and less likely to believe that e-cigarette use would lead to addiction. In a multivariable logistic regression, prior combustible cigarette use, mother’s education, and addiction risk beliefs about e-cigarettes emerged as significant predictors of adolescents’ e-cigarette use. This study reveals that while knowledge is not associated with adolescent e-cigarette use, risk beliefs do predict use.

Keywords: beliefs; e-cigarette; knowledge; vaping.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology
  • Vaping / psychology*