Electronic cigarette use behaviors and motivations among smokers and non-smokers

Thomas E. Sussan, Fatima G. Shahzad, Eefa Tabassum, Joanna E. Cohen, Robert A. Wise, Michael J. Blaha, Janet T. Holbrook, Shyam Biswal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: The use of electronic cigarettes (EC) has risen exponentially over the past decade, including among never smokers, and ECs are now the most popular tobacco product among teenagers in the US. While, EC manufacturers utilize numerous marketing strategies to target both smokers and non-smokers, it is unclear how perceptions and behaviors differ between these two groups. Methods: We conducted a survey of 320 adults either via online surveys or in Baltimore vape shops to determine demographics, behaviors, perceptions, and motivations underlying use of ECs. Results: Our survey respondents were predominantly young, Caucasian males, 74% of whom identified themselves as former smokers, while 20% identified as current smokers and 6% were never smokers. Former smokers reported a longer history of EC use and higher nicotine concentrations than current smokers. For former and current smokers, the primary motivation for EC use was assistance to quit smoking, and nearly half indicated that they plan to reduce their nicotine concentration and eventually quit using ECs. Among former smokers, self-reports on use and measures of dependence were consistent with nicotine replacement as their primary motivation. The majority of former and current smokers also reported that their respiratory health had improved as a result of EC use, although this effect was stronger for former smokers. Never smokers reported less frequent EC use and dependence compared to former and current smokers. Their motivations for use were more commonly for enjoyment and popularity, and they displayed a reduced desire to eventually quit using ECs. Conclusions: These responses provide insight into the underlying thoughts and behaviors of smoking and non-smoking EC users and also suggest that never smoking EC users are an emerging demographic with different motivations and perceptions than those of current and former smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number686
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 8 2017


  • Baltimore
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Maryland
  • Preferences
  • Smokers
  • Survey
  • Vapor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Electronic cigarette use behaviors and motivations among smokers and non-smokers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this