Importance: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are the most commonly used tobacco product among adolescents and young adults, and the new pod-based e-cigarette devices may put adolescents and young adults at increased risk for polytobacco use and nicotine dependence.
Objective: To build an evidence base for perceptions of risk from and use of pod-based e-cigarettes among adolescents and young adults.
Design, setting, and participants: In a survey study, a cross-sectional analysis was performed of data collected from April 6 to June 20, 2018, from 445 California adolescents and young adults as part of an ongoing prospective cohort study designed to measure the use and perceptions of tobacco products.
Exposures: Use of pod-based e-cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and cigarettes.
Main outcomes and measures: Ever use, past 7-day use, and past 30-day use and co-use of pod-based e-cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and cigarettes; use of flavors and nicotine in pod-based e-cigarettes and e-cigarettes; and associated perceptions of risks, benefits, and nicotine dependence.
Results: Among 445 adolescents and young adults (280 females, 140 males, 6 transgender individuals, and 19 missing data; mean [SD] age, 19.3 [1.7] years) who completed wave 6 of the ongoing prospective cohort study, ever use information was provided by 437 respondents, of which 68 (15.6%) reported use of pod-based e-cigarettes, 133 (30.4%) reported use of e-cigarettes, and 106 (24.3%) reported use of cigarettes. The mean (SD) number of days that pod-based e-cigarettes were used in the past 7 days was 1.5 (2.4) and in the past 30 days was 6.7 (10.0). The mean (SD) number of days that other e-cigarettes were used in the past 7 days was 0.8 (1.8) and in the past 30 days was 3.2 (7.4). The mean (SD) number of days that cigarettes were used in the past 7 days was 0.7 (1.8) and in the past 30 days was 3.0 (7.6). Among ever users of pod-based e-cigarettes, 18 (26.5%) reported their first e-liquid was flavored menthol or mint and 19 (27.9%) reported fruit (vs 13 [9.8%] and 50 [37.6%] for other e-cigarettes). The mean perceived chance of experiencing social risks and short-term and long-term health risks from the use of either pod-based e-cigarettes or other e-cigarettes was 40% and did not differ statistically by e-cigarette type. Among 34 adolescents and young adults reporting any loss of autonomy from nicotine, there was no difference in mean (SD) Hooked On Nicotine Checklist scores between those using pod-based e-cigarettes (2.59 [3.14]) and other e-cigarettes (2.32 [2.55]).
Conclusions and relevance: Use by adolescents and young adults of newer types of e-cigarettes such as pod-based systems is increasing rapidly, and adolescents and young adults report corresponding misperceptions and lack of knowledge about these products. Rapid innovation by e-cigarette manufacturers suggests that public health and prevention efforts appear to be needed to include messages targeting components common to all current and emerging e-cigarette products to increase knowledge and decrease misperceptions, with the goal to try to ultimately reduce e-cigarette use among adolescents and young adults.