Qualitative insights on how adult e-cigarette users describe quantity of e-cigarettes used - PATH Study 2018

Prev Med Rep. 2021 May 29;23:101421. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101421. eCollection 2021 Sep.


The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain a deeper understanding of how adult e-cigarette users describe quantity of e-cigarettes used. Data for this analysis came from a qualitative study of U.S. adult dual e-cigarette and cigarette users and former cigarette smokers aged 18 years and older. Eligible respondents from Wave 4 (2016-2017) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study responded to a brief web questionnaire and participated in an in-depth telephone interview (n = 112) between March and August 2018. Using the respondent's native terminology for their e-cigarette device, interviewers asked respondents to describe in their own words the quantity of e-cigarettes used. Using NVivo software, interview transcripts were coded and analyzed to identify themes and patterns. Respondents described quantity used in three different ways: number of times and/or puffs; device-specific terms (i.e., replacement of disposable devices, cartridges/pods; use of e-liquid); and perceived equivalence to a quantity of traditional cigarettes. The most commonly reported approach across all device types and levels of device proficiency, although with varying ease and specificity, was the number of times and/or puffs taken in a day. Several respondents used multiple approaches to describe quantity. E-cigarette users use a variety of approaches to describe quantity of e-cigarette used, contributing to challenges developing standardized survey measures. The variety of approaches should be taken into consideration along with device type and other contextual factors such as device proficiency when developing survey questions.

Keywords: Adults; E-cigarette use; Qualitative study; Quantity.