Young Adult E-cigarette Use and Retail Exposure in 6 US Metropolitan Areas

Tob Regul Sci. 2021 Jan;7(1):59-75. doi: 10.18001/trs.7.1.5.


Objectives: Given the need to understand e-cigarette retail and its impact, we examined sociodemographic, tobacco and marijuana use, and e-cigarette retail experiences as correlates of (1) past 30-day e-cigarette use, (2) past 30-day advertising/media exposure, and (3) point-of-sale age verification among young adults.

Methods: We analyzed baseline survey data (September-December, 2018) among 3006 young adults (ages 18-34) in 6 metropolitan areas (Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, San Diego, Seattle) in a 2-year longitudinal study.

Results: In this sample (Mage = 24.6, 42.3% male, 71.6% white, 11.4% Hispanic), 37.7% (N = 1133) were past 30-day e-cigarette users; 68.6% (N = 2062; non-users: 66.0%, users: 72.9%) reported past 30-day e-cigarette-related advertising/media exposure. Among e-cigarette users, vape shops were the most common source of e-cigarettes (44.7%) followed by online (18.2%). Among users, 34.2% were "almost always" asked for age verification. In multilevel logistic regression, e-cigarette use and advertising/media exposure were correlated (and both correlated with being younger). E-cigarette use also correlated with other tobacco product and marijuana use (and being male and white). Infrequent age verification correlated with commonly purchasing e-cigarettes online (and being older and black).

Conclusions: Increased efforts are needed to reduce young adult advertising/media exposure and increase retailer compliance among retailers, particularly online and vape shops.

Keywords: alternative tobacco products; e-cigarettes; point-of-sale; retail marketing; tobacco control; tobacco policy.