Importance: Nonnicotine e-cigarettes contain chemicals, flavorants, and solvents that have known health harms and/or have not been proven safe for inhalation.
Objective: To evaluate nonnicotine e-cigarette use patterns, including common flavors, brands, and ingredients.
Design, setting, and participants: This cross-sectional study included a convenience sample of US residents aged 13 to 40 years who completed an online survey in November and December 2021. Quota sampling was used for an equal proportion of participants aged 13 to 17 years, 18 to 20 years, and 21 to 40 years, balanced for sex, race, and ethnicity per the latest US Census.
Main outcomes and measures: Nonnicotine e-cigarette use (ever, past 30- and past 7-day, number of times used, time taken to finish); co-use with nicotine e-cigarettes; age at first try; and flavors, brands, and ingredients used.
Results: Overall, 6131 participants (mean [SD] age, 21.9 [6.8] years; range, 13-40 years; 3454 [56.3%] identifying as female) completed the survey (55.1% completion rate). Among all participants, 1590 (25.9%) had ever used a nonnicotine e-cigarette, 1021 (16.7%) used one in the past 30 days, and 760 (12.4%) used one in the past 7 days. By age group, 227 of 1630 participants aged 13 to 17 years (13.9%), 497 of 2033 participants aged 18 to 20 years (24.4%), 399 of 1041 participants aged 21 to 24 years (38.3%), and 467 of 1427 participants aged 25 to 40 years (32.7%) had ever used nonnicotine e-cigarettes. Among 1590 participants who had ever used a nonnicotine e-cigarette, 549 (34.5%) had used one more than 10 times; 1017 (63.9%) finished 1 nonnicotine e-cigarette in less than 1 week. Co-use of nonnicotine with nicotine e-cigarettes was reported by 1155 participants (18.8%), 1363 (22.2%) exclusively used nicotine e-cigarettes, and 431 (7.0%) exclusively used nonnicotine e-cigarettes. Most-used flavors were sweet, dessert, or candy (578 [36.3%]); fruit (532 [33.4%]); and mint or menthol (321 [20.2%]); similar flavor patterns were observed for the top 2 flavors among those who used nonnicotine e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, followed by combinations of coffee, alcohol, flower, plant, and mint or menthol flavors by age group. Participants most reported using tetrahydrocannabinol (587 [36.9%]), cannabidiol (537 [33.7%]), melatonin (438 [27.5%]), caffeine (428 [26.9%]), and essential oils (364 [22.9%]) in their nonnicotine e-cigarettes.
Conclusions and relevance: In this study of adolescents, young adults, and adults, a sizeable proportion reported having used nonnicotine e-cigarettes and co-using them with nicotine e-cigarettes. Surveillance studies should further assess nonnicotine e-cigarette use patterns and regulations, and prevention should be developed to address youth appeal, unsubstantiated health claims, and possible health harms.