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Perceived addiction to vaping among youth and young adult regular vapers
  1. Alexia Camara-Medeiros1,
  2. Lori Diemert1,
  3. Shawn O'Connor1,
  4. Robert Schwartz1,
  5. Thomas Eissenberg2,
  6. Joanna E Cohen3
  1. 1 Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Psychology, Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA
  3. 3 Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Schwartz, Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Toronto, ON M5S, Canada; robert.schwartz{at}


Background The prevalence of e-cigarette use among youth and young adults has increased markedly in recent years; however, little is known about young people’s perceptions of e-cigarette addiction. This study examines factors associated with self-reported addiction to e-cigarette use among this population.

Methods In 2018, 1048 Canadians aged 16–25 years were recruited through online social media platforms to complete a survey. Quota sampling was used to oversample regular e-cigarette users (vaping at least weekly); these 578 regular users were included in this analysis. Self-perceived addiction was assessed by asking participants if they felt they were ‘very’, ‘somewhat’ or ‘not at all’ addicted to e-cigarettes. A proportional odds model was employed to identify factors associated with the ordinal outcome.

Results Almost half of regular users perceived themselves to be ‘not at all addicted’, 41% felt they were ‘somewhat addicted’ and 13% felt they were very addicted to e-cigarettes. Women, former cigarette smokers, daily vapers and those vaping for more than a year were more likely to report higher levels of perceived addiction. Similarly, high sensation-seeking youth, those reading blogs and websites about vaping, those frequently dripping and those using higher nicotine strengths had a greater likelihood of higher perceived addiction than their respective counterparts.

Conclusion More than half of youth and young adult regular e-cigarette users felt they had some level of addiction. The findings identify possible opportunities for targeted programming for education and treatment, as well as potential opportunities for policy change such as maximum allowable nicotine strengths.

  • addiction
  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • nicotine
  • public policy

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to conceptualisation of the study and of the manuscript. All authors reviewed the draft manuscript and provided input to its final form. AC conducted the analyses under guidance from LD and SO. AC wrote the first draft. RS, LD and SO contributed to redrafting.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (RECIGWP: Research on E-cigarettes and Waterpipe).

  • Competing interests None declared.

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