Beliefs about E-cigarettes: A focus group study with college students

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34 Scopus citations


Objectives: In this study, we consider how best to prevent recreational uptake of e-cigarettes among tobacco nonusers; it is important to investigate the underlying beliefs that young adults have about e-cigarettes and package elements. Methods: Using the focus group method of belief elicitation, we explore underlying belief structures that undergraduate students at a large Midwestern public university have about e-cigarettes. Beliefs are analyzed using the constant-comparative approach and categorized using the theory of planned behavior. Results: Participants describe a dual view, wherein e-cigarettes are a cool and causal item to use at a party, while holding a negative stigma toward everyday use. They acknowledged confusion over nicotine and focused on the flavors and smoke tricks as attractions to the product. In response to package elements, participants describe the flavors and modified risk statement as undermining the health warning. Conclusions: Findings suggest it may be useful to supplement the required warning labels with a public education campaign that improves understanding of nicotine and to regulate the amount of nicotine permissible in e-cigarettes in order to prevent addiction in recreational users, while at the same time supporting use of the product for smoking cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-87
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of health behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this paper was supported, in part, by the National Institute on Drug Abuse/ National Institutes of Health and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products R03-DA043022, and by funds from the Paul Brainerd Computer Technology Fund, the Institute for New Media Studies, and the University of Minnesota Grant-In-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIDA/NIH, the FDA, or the University of Minnesota. We appreciate the work of 3 undergraduate research assistants who were instrumental in the development of this project and help with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 PNG Publications. All Rights Reserved.


  • Belief elicitation
  • E-cigarettes
  • Theory of planned behavior
  • Warning labels


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