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Beliefs and Experimentation with Electronic Cigarettes

A Prospective Analysis Among Young Adults

      Background

      Previous cross-sectional studies found that positive beliefs about electronic nicotine delivery systems (commonly known as electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes) were associated with use of these products. However, the prospective association between these beliefs and subsequent use of e-cigarettes is unclear.

      Purpose

      To identify the beliefs predicting subsequent use of e-cigarettes.

      Methods

      A total of 1379 young adults (mean age=24.1 years) from the Minnesota Adolescent Community Cohort who reported never using e-cigarettes at baseline (collected Oct 2010–Mar 2011) and completed follow-up data collection (during Oct 2011–Mar 2012) were included in this analysis. Participants’ beliefs about e-cigarettes (potential as quit aids, harmfulness and addictiveness relative to cigarettes) were asked at baseline (yes/no). At follow-up, participants were asked if they had ever used e-cigarettes. Logistic regression models were used to assess the associations between beliefs about e-cigarettes and subsequent experimentation. Analysis was conducted in 2012.

      Results

      At follow-up, 7.4% of the sample reported ever using e-cigarettes (21.6% among baseline current smokers, 11.9% among baseline former smokers, and 2.9% among baseline nonsmokers). Participants who believed e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking and perceived e-cigarettes to be less harmful than cigarettes at baseline were more likely to report experimenting with e-cigarettes at follow-up (p<0.05). These associations did not differ by smoking status.

      Conclusions

      Given that young adults are still developing their tobacco use behaviors, informing them about the lack of evidence to support e-cigarettes as quit aids and the unknown health risk of e-cigarettes may deter young adults from trying these products.
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      Linked Article

      • Context on Use Is Needed Before Public Health Recommendations Are Made About E-Cigarettes
        American Journal of Preventive MedicineVol. 46Issue 6
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          Choi and Forster1 report one of the few prospective studies of e-cigarette use among young adults (n=1,379, mean age=24.1 years), drawn from the Minnesota Adolescent Community Cohort, who at baseline had never before tried e-cigarettes, and almost 70% of whom were never smokers. At the 12-month follow-up, 53 baseline current smokers, 21 baseline former smokers, and 28 baseline never smokers reported “ever using” e-cigarettes during the year.
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