Enjoyment was reported more often than was use for quitting smoking by young vapers

Based on a recent survey [1] conducted on undergraduate students (ages 18–23) at four universities in New York State, affective reasons likely play a major role in the popularity of e-cigarettes. In contrast with its use in the population of adult smokers who are vaping for quitting smoking, mainly, the students rather use e-cigarettes for enjoyment.

In an earlier publication [2] the main authors revealed that about 30% of the population investigated ever tried the e-cigarette, and it is this population that is subsampled in their new study where the current users account for about half of the ever triers. They showed that involvement in risky behaviors was related to e-cigarette use and susceptibility to e-cigarette use and concluded that e-cigarette use is more likely to occur in college students who have also used other tobacco products, marijuana, and/or alcohol.

However, the idea is not new, a study published in 2013 [3] from data gathered online through 2009 concluded that the desire to quit cigarette smoking was not the only motivation of the youth for using e-cigarettes.

Even if more current users are vaping for quitting smoking, their use of e-cigarettes is more likely associated to enjoyment (72.3%) than for discontinued users (42.9%). Among current users, daily ones use it to quit or reduce smoking and non-daily users consider it less toxic than tobacco cigarette.

E-cigarette use appears to be associated to student’s parties and of increasing popularity among the youth. However, the information that they receive from the Health Services on Campus is not always up to date and most often erroneous. For example on a Campus that I know quite well, e-cigarette is described as unsafe compared to burnt tobacco, information is oriented instead of neutral and e-cigarette has never be presented as a cessation option for smokers. In this State, however, high tax rate on cigarettes is likely to make alternatives such as e-cigarettes more attractive from a cost perspective. Therefore, in order to prevent the youth to have access to such products, Hawai’i will become, in January 2016, the first state in the nation to ban sales of tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) for people under 21.

Since most smokers have been showed to pick up persistent habits before age 24, mainly on the Campus, prevention efforts aimed at students should be pursued, updated and adapted to the general context.

[1] Saddleso, M. L., Kozlowski, L. T., Giovino, G. A., Goniewicz, M. L., Mahoney, M. C., Homish, G. G., & Arora, A. (2015). Enjoyment and other reasons for electronic cigarette use: Results from college students in New York. Addictive Behaviors.

[2] Saddleson, M. L., Kozlowski, L. T., Giovino, G. A., Hawk, L. W., Murphy, J. M., MacLean, M. G., … & Mahoney, M. C. (2015). Risky behaviors, e-cigarette use and susceptibility of use among college students. Drug and alcohol dependence, 149, 25-30.

[3] Sutfin, E. L., McCoy, T. P., Morrell, H. E., Hoeppner, B. B., & Wolfson, M. (2013). Electronic cigarette use by college students. Drug and alcohol dependence, 131(3), 214-221.