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Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 Jul;17(7):847-54. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu257. Epub 2014 Dec 6.

Reasons for Electronic Cigarette Experimentation and Discontinuation Among Adolescents and Young Adults.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT;
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT;
Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.



Understanding why young people try and stop electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is critical to inform e-cigarette regulatory efforts.


We conducted 18 focus groups (N = 127) in 1 middle school (MS), 2 high schools (HSs), and 2 colleges in Connecticut to assess themes related to e-cigarette experimentation and discontinuation. We then conducted surveys to evaluate these identified themes in 2 MSs, 4 HSs, and 1 college (N = 1,175) to explore whether reasons for e-cigarette experimentation and/or discontinuation differed by school level or cigarette smoking status.


From the focus groups, we identified experimentation themes (i.e., curiosity, flavors, family/peer influence, easy access, and perceptions of e-cigarettes as "cool" and as a healthier/better alternative to cigarettes) and discontinuation themes (i.e., health concerns, loss of interest, high cost, bad taste, and view of e-cigarettes as less satisfying than cigarettes). The survey data showed that the top reasons for experimentation were curiosity (54.4%), appealing flavors (43.8%), and peer influences (31.6%), and the top reasons for discontinuation were responses related to losing interest (23.6%), perceiving e-cigarettes as "uncool" (16.3%), and health concerns (12.1%). Cigarette smokers tried e-cigarettes because of the perceptions that they can be used anywhere and to quit smoking and discontinued because they were not as satisfying as cigarettes. School level differences were detected.


E-cigarette prevention efforts toward youth should include limiting e-cigarette flavors, communicating messages emphasizing the health risks of use, and changing social norms surrounding the use of e-cigarettes. The results should be interpreted in light of the limitations of this study.

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