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Tob Control. 2020 Mar 20. pii: tobaccocontrol-2019-055352. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2019-055352. [Epub ahead of print]

Perceived addiction to vaping among youth and young adult regular vapers.

Author information

Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Psychology, Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA.
Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



The prevalence of e-cigarette use among youth and young adults has increased markedly in recent years; however, little is known about young people's perceptions of e-cigarette addiction. This study examines factors associated with self-reported addiction to e-cigarette use among this population.


In 2018, 1048 Canadians aged 16-25 years were recruited through online social media platforms to complete a survey. Quota sampling was used to oversample regular e-cigarette users (vaping at least weekly); these 578 regular users were included in this analysis. Self-perceived addiction was assessed by asking participants if they felt they were 'very', 'somewhat' or 'not at all' addicted to e-cigarettes. A proportional odds model was employed to identify factors associated with the ordinal outcome.


Almost half of regular users perceived themselves to be 'not at all addicted', 41% felt they were 'somewhat addicted' and 13% felt they were very addicted to e-cigarettes. Women, former cigarette smokers, daily vapers and those vaping for more than a year were more likely to report higher levels of perceived addiction. Similarly, high sensation-seeking youth, those reading blogs and websites about vaping, those frequently dripping and those using higher nicotine strengths had a greater likelihood of higher perceived addiction than their respective counterparts.


More than half of youth and young adult regular e-cigarette users felt they had some level of addiction. The findings identify possible opportunities for targeted programming for education and treatment, as well as potential opportunities for policy change such as maximum allowable nicotine strengths.


addiction; electronic nicotine delivery devices; nicotine; public policy

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: None declared.

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