Introduction: Research has shown that adults perceive that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are effective for smoking cessation, yet little is known about adolescents and young adults' perceptions of e-cigarettes for quitting cigarette smoking. This study describes middle, high school, and college students' beliefs about, and experiences with, e-cigarettes for cigarette smoking cessation. Methods: We conducted 18 focus groups (n = 127) with male and female cigarette smokers and nonsmokers in 2 public colleges, 2 high schools, and 1 middle school in Connecticut between November 2012 and April 2013. Participants discussed cigarette smoking cessation in relation to e-cigarettes. Verbatim transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: All participants, regardless of age and smoking status, were aware that e-cigarettes could be used for smoking cessation. College and high school participants described different methods of how e-cigarettes could be used for smoking cessation: (a) nicotine reduction followed by cessation; (b) cigarette reduction/dual use; and (c) long-term exclusive e-cigarette use. However, overall, participants did not perceive that e-cigarette use led to successful quitting experiences. Participants described positive attributes (maintenance of smoking actions, "healthier" alternative to cigarettes, and parental approval) and negative attributes (persistence of craving, maintenance of addiction) of e-cigarettes for cessation. Some college students expressed distrust of marketing of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation. Conclusions: Adolescent and young adult smokers and nonsmokers perceive that there are several methods of using e-cigarettes for quitting and are aware of both positive and negative aspects of the product. Future research is needed to determine the role of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation in this population.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health