Article Text

Download PDFPDF
E-cigarette users commonly stealth vape in places where e-cigarette use is prohibited
  1. Jessica M Yingst1,
  2. Courtney Lester1,
  3. Susan Veldheer1,
  4. Sophia I Allen1,
  5. Ping Du1,2,
  6. Jonathan Foulds1
  1. 1 Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jessica M Yingst, Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey PA 17033, USA; jyingst{at}


Introduction ‘Stealth vaping’ is the practice of vaping discreetly in places where electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is prohibited. While anecdotal evidence suggests that stealth vaping is common, there have been no formal studies of the behaviour. The purpose of this study is to examine stealth vaping behaviour among experienced e-cigarette users.

Methods Data were collected from the follow-up survey of a large longitudinal cohort study of adult experienced e-cigarette users conducted in January 2017. To measure stealth vaping behaviour, participants were asked ‘Have you ever ‘stealth vaped’, that is to say, used an e-cig in a public place where it was not approved and attempted to conceal your e-cig use? (yes/no)’. Participants indicating yes completed additional questions about the frequency of stealth vaping and were asked to select all the locations where they commonly stealth vape. Frequencies were used to examine the overall prevalence, frequency and common locations for stealth vaping. A logistic regression model was run to predict stealth vaping.

Results Approximately two-thirds (64.3%, n=297/462) of the sample reported ever stealth vaping, of which 52.5% (n=156/297) reported stealth vaping in the past week. Among stealth vapers (n=297), 31% reported owning a smaller device solely for stealth vaping. The most common places to stealth vape included at work (46.8%), followed by bars/nightclubs (42.1%), restaurants (37.7%), at the movies (35.4%) and in airports/on airplanes (11.7%). Predictors of stealth vaping were greater dependence and owning a smaller device solely for stealth vaping.

Conclusions Stealth vaping is a common behaviour for many experienced e-cigarette users. More research is needed to understand the reasons for stealth vaping and its potential health and safety implications. This information could help researchers and regulators to design interventions to minimise the public health impact of stealth vaping.

  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • public policy
  • addiction

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors JMY completed the data analysis and drafted the manuscript. CL, SV, SIA, PD and JF discussed the concept of the manuscript and reviewed the drafted manuscript.

  • Funding The authors are partly supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Tobacco Products of the US Food and Drug Administration (under award number P50-DA-036107). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Competing interests JF has done paid consulting for pharmaceutical companies involved in producing smoking cessation medications, including GSK, Pfizer, Novartis, J&J and Cypress Bioscience, and received a research grant from Pfizer. There are no competing interests to declare for other authors.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the Penn State University College of Medicine Institutional Review Board, Hershey.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.