Study explores the social norms of electronic cigarette use by teenagers

August 26, 2014
Study explores the social norms of electronic cigarette use by teenagers

"The Social Norms and Beliefs of Teenage Male Electronic Cigarette Use," a research study published in Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse (Routledge), delves into the social norms and beliefs of teenage male electronic cigarette users. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery operated inhalation devices that provide warm, vaporized nicotine to users without the inconvenience of tobacco smoke. Often marketed as a "healthier alternative," e-cigarettes have filled shelves of convenience stores and have been used much more frequently in public spaces since their inception in late 2011.

"Much of our past research has been conducted on tobacco use among disparate populations, in particular African American males," said Dr. Ronald Peters and Dr. Angela Meshack in a joint statement. "The present research is an extension of our previous work and began after getting anecdotal evidence from students with whom we work. They shared that they were beginning to use electronic cigarettes because they were novel and had high social approval among their peers."

To conduct the research, a sample of 47 males ages 15-17 years participated in focus groups. They were identified as "e-cigarette users" based upon their responses to a question that asked if they had used an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days. Four open-ended questions were asked to identify participants' subjective norms and beliefs related to e-cigarette use: (a) Why do youth use electronic cigarettes?; (b) Where are places that you use electronic cigarettes?; (c) What do your friends think about electronic cigarettes?; and (d) Why are so popular?

The identified several norms about teenage e-cigarette use among African American males. The primary reasons these teens admitted to using e-cigarettes were expeditious consumption and easy concealment, high social approval among peers, beliefs that e-cigarettes are healthier as well as more aesthetically pleasing compared to tobacco cigarettes, and a safe high. The researchers quote one respondent's belief in the results section, "It is healthier than smoking a cigarette because cigarettes got all those chemicals in the [expletive]." Another participant mentioned his reason for using, "Because you can hit it and put it in your pocket quick and not be caught. If there are no teachers around, you don't have to take the time to light it up." Participants admitted using their e-cigarettes everywhere – both at school and at home.

"The data uncovered in this research offer potential directions for larger qualitative and quantitative research studies related to e-cigarette use among youth," explained the researchers. "We hope with future research to determine if e-cigarette use may serve as a gateway to other drugs just as traditional tobacco have been identified and if the user experiences higher euphoric effects."

Explore further: Youths who try e-cigarettes triple since 2011

More information: "The Social Norms and Beliefs of Teenage Male Electronic Cigarette Use," Ronald J. Peters, Angela Meshack, Mi-Ting Lin, Mandy Hill, Susan Abughosh, Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, Vol. 12, Iss. 4, 2013, DOI: 10.1080/15332640.2013.819310

Related Stories

Youths who try e-cigarettes triple since 2011

August 25, 2014
The number of US youths who have tried e-cigarettes tripled from 2011 to 2013, raising concerns about the potential for a new generation of nicotine addicts, US health authorities said Monday.

Smokers slow to embrace routine use of electronic cigarettes

June 4, 2014
Sales of electronic cigarettes in the U.S. reached nearly $1.8 billion in 2013, but few of the smokers who tried the product have made the permanent switch from regular tobacco cigarettes, finds a new study published in the ...

Lung groups: Governments should limit or ban use of E-cigarettes

July 10, 2014
(HealthDay)—Governments should ban or limit the use of electronic cigarettes until more is known about their health effects, say experts from the world's leading lung organizations.

WHO calls for ban on e-cigarette sales to minors (Update)

August 26, 2014
The World Health Organization called Tuesday on governments to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, warning they pose a "serious threat" to unborn babies and young people.

Smokers consume same amount of cigarettes regardless of nicotine levels

August 22, 2014
Cigarettes with very low levels of nicotine may reduce addiction without increasing exposure to toxic chemicals, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

Current evidence suggests benefits of e-cigarettes outweigh harms

July 31, 2014
A major scientific review of available research on the use, content, and safety of e-cigarettes has concluded that – although long-term health effects of e-cigarette use are unknown – compared with conventional cigarettes ...

Recommended for you

Americans misinformed about smoking

August 22, 2017
After voluminous research studies, numerous lawsuits and millions of deaths linked to cigarettes, it might seem likely that Americans now properly understand the risks of smoking.

Women who sexually abuse children are just as harmful to their victims as male abusers

August 21, 2017
"That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?"

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.