• Journal Article

Adolescents' use of basic, intermediate, and advanced device types for vaping


Pepper, J. K., MacMonegle, A. J., & Nonnemaker, J. M. (2017). Adolescents' use of basic, intermediate, and advanced device types for vaping. Nicotine and Tobacco Research. DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntx279


Introduction: Advanced models of electronic vaping products (EVPs) likely pose a greater risk to adolescent health than basic or intermediate models because advanced models deliver nicotine more effectively and heat e-liquid to higher temperatures, producing more harmful chemical emissions. However, little is known about adolescents' risk factors for using different device types.

Methods: We used social media to recruit an online sample of 1,508 U.S. adolescents aged 15-17 who reported past 30-day use of e-cigarettes. We assessed tobacco use, beliefs and knowledge about EVPs, and EVP use behavior, including the device type participants use most frequently. We used multinomial logistic regression to examine differences between adolescents who usually use intermediate versus basic and advanced versus basic devices.

Results: Most respondents usually used modifiable advanced devices (56.8%) rather than basic "cigalike" (14.5%) or pen-style intermediate (28.7%) devices. Use of multiple device types was common, particularly among those who primarily used basic devices. Younger age and less frequent vaping were associated with mainly using basic devices. Adolescents who were older, male, personally bought their main device, and had ever mixed e-liquids were at elevated risk for usually using advanced devices.

Conclusions: Adolescents who primarily use basic devices may be newer users who are experimenting with multiple devices. Future research should examine which adolescents are most likely to transition to advanced devices in order to develop targeted interventions. Regulators should consider strategies to reduce access to all types of EVPs, such as better enforcement of the current ban on sales to minors.

Implications: This research addresses two gaps in research on adolescent electronic vaping product use: (1) characterizing use of advanced devices as distinct from intermediate devices rather than grouping them together and (2) examining factors associated with use of specific device types. This study suggests that there are distinct profiles of adolescents who use primarily basic, intermediate, or advanced devices. Adolescents who most often use basic devices may be new users experimenting with vaping, whereas adolescents who most often use advanced devices appear to be buying devices for themselves and engaging in risky behaviors such as mixing their own e-liquid.