Background: Little is known about the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) among low-income adult cigarette smokers, who experience severe tobacco-related health disparities.
Methods: This study conducted interviews to examine experiences and perceptions associated with ENDS use among predominantly low-income adult smokers (n = 30; mean age 30.2 ± 12.9; 60% male, 46.7% African American, 30% white, 10% more than one race; 76.7% annual household income ≤USD 24,000). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded in NVivo 11.
Results: Overall, participants reported complementing rather than substituting their smoking with ENDS use (e.g., using ENDS only when smoking is not allowed). Predominant reasons for vaping were convenience, smoking reduction/cessation, stress management, social acceptability, lower long-term costs than smoking, and appealing flavors. Common reasons for not switching to exclusive vaping were that ENDS did not satisfy cigarette cravings and concerns about ENDS health effects. Participants indicated higher likelihood of switching to exclusive ENDS use if the products were more affordable, perceived as substantially less harmful, tasted and felt more like smoking a cigarette, and more effective for reducing cravings.
Conclusions: Continued research is needed to maximize any harm reduction potential of ENDS and ensure that these products do not contribute to worsening health disparities.
Keywords: cigarettes; disparities; e-cigarettes; electronic nicotine delivery systems; income; qualitative.