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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers Examines Why and How Smokers First Use E- Cigarettes and Future Use Intentions

Research suggests e-cigarette trial is rapidly increasing, and with the decline in conventional cigarette use, it is important to understand the context of e-cigarette trial and smokers’ use intentions.

Head Shots
[Photo: Dr. Olivia A. Wackowski]

In a study published in Tobacco Regulatory Science, Dr. Olivia A. Wackowski, assistant professor, department of health education and behavioral science, at the Rutgers School of Public Health, along with her colleagues at the School’s Center for Tobacco Studies, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 519 current cigarette smokers in the United States (classified as never, current, or former e-cigarette users/triers) in April 2014 about their e-cigarette experiences and use intentions. Of those in the sample, over half (56.7 percent) had ever used/tried e-cigarettes and 18.9 percent were “current users/triers.”

The study found that almost as many smokers are now trying e-cigarettes for the first time by purchasing e-cigarettes from stores (43 percent) as compared to trying them from a friend (50 percent). “These findings are likely a function of the more recent availability and affordability of e-cigarettes in retail stores,” said Dr. Wackowski. Those who reported purchasing e-cigarettes on their own were more likely to have used e-cigarettes more times than those who first tried e-cigarettes from a friend.

Positive perceptions about first experiences were significantly higher among current (34.5 percent) compared to former e-cigarette users/triers (17.9 percent). Few (8.7 percent) current e-cigarette users/triers had a negative first experience.

Two-thirds of smokers in the study who had tried e-cigarettes did not go on to continue using them, with most (43 percent) saying that e-cigarettes did not satisfy their craving or simulate the feeling of smoking they enjoyed. However, more than half of these smokers (55 percent) left open the possibility that they would try e-cigarettes again. Susceptibility to future e-cigarette use was significantly associated with e-cigarette use status, intention to quit smoking and satisfaction with first e-cigarette experience. Among those interested in e-cigarettes, 26.3 percent were more interested in trying an e-cigarette made by a major tobacco company and 31.8 percent in trying an e-cigarette that looked “similar” versus “different” (13.8 percent) than a real cigarette.

The context and perceptions of e-cigarette trial experiences, product quality, style and manufacturer may influence e-cigarette trial and use.

“Smokers’ early e-cigarette experiences, reasons for use, and use intentions” was published in the April issue of Tobacco Regulatory Science.

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