The aim of our study was to explore reasons for starting and then stopping electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use. Among a national sample of 3878 U.S. adults who reported ever trying e-cigarettes, the most common reasons for trying were curiosity (53%); because a friend or family member used, gave, or offered e-cigarettes (34%); and quitting or reducing smoking (30%). Nearly two-thirds (65%) of people who started using e-cigarettes later stopped using them. Discontinuation was more common among those whose main reason for trying was not goal-oriented (e.g., curiosity) than goal-oriented (e.g., quitting smoking) (81% vs. 45%, p < 0.001). The most common reasons for stopping e-cigarette use were that respondents were just experimenting (49%), using e-cigarettes did not feel like smoking cigarettes (15%), and users did not like the taste (14%). Our results suggest there are two categories of e-cigarette users: those who try for goal-oriented reasons and typically continue using and those who try for non-goal-oriented reasons and then typically stop using. Research should distinguish e-cigarette experimenters from motivated users whose decisions to discontinue relate to the utility or experience of use. Depending on whether e-cigarettes prove to be effective smoking cessation tools or whether they deter cessation, public health programs may need distinct strategies to reach and influence different types of users.
Reasons for starting and stopping electronic cigarette use