New Study: Kids Don’t Care About E-Cigs

Klaus Kneale
by Klaus Kneale
January 29, 2013

A new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health reveals something many electronic cigarette users already know — electronic cigarettes don’t appeal to youth.  The study surveyed 228 adolescent males and found that only 2 had even tried electronic cigarettes and both were regular smokers.  Despite this evidence, the researchers still made dramatic efforts to warn against what they considered a dangerous new nicotine gateway.

Read the complete study here.

Still, this research is promising for the industry.  Electronic cigarettes don’t appeal to adolescent males — a group more likely to experiment than a drunk co-ed at an all girls school.  This is a demographic that thrives on the statement “Watch me do this!”  And yet, electronic cigarettes are something they simply aren’t interested in.  It seems that if they’re going to do it, they’ll go with the real thing.  Fire and smoke is just cooler than a rechargeable battery.

The study focuses in on the teens that say they’d be willing to try electronic cigarettes (a misleadingly stated 18%).  They use this as evidence that electronic cigarettes are ensnaring our youth and providing a gateway to a lifetime of nicotine addiction.  First, the evidence already shows that kids that try electronic cigarettes have already been ensnared by the real thing, so blaming electronic cigarettes is hardly appropriate.  This is like blaming violent video games for making someone do something terrible when they started beating animals with sticks before they were potty trained.

The Results

The study surveyed 228 males between the age of 11 and 19.  The average age was 15.1 and 21 of the subjects (9%) were smokers.  There was some parental involvement in the survey to correlate regional, social, and economic factors and to ensure the minors’ consent could be given.  This certainly raises questions as to just how honest the subjects were however.  If I learned anything in my teen years, it was that it’s never safe to admit wrong-doing, no matter how unlikely you think it is that your parents will hear about it.

According to the survey, only two subjects had ever tried electronic cigarettes and both were regular users of tobacco cigarettes.  The responses from these two were excluded from subsequent statistics and analysis because science, I guess.  From the report: “Only 2 of 228 adolescents (< 1%) had previously tried an e-cigarette. Both of these participants also smoked regular cigarettes. We excluded these two adolescents from subsequent analyses.”

The rest of the research is largely a study in awareness and willingness to try electronic cigarettes.  Researchers found that 152 (67%) respondents were already aware of electronic cigarettes and that 41 (18%) of the total would be willing to try an electronic cigarette if it was offered to them by a friend.

There’s a few things worth noting about 18% willing to try electronic cigarettes.  This is 18% of the total and the way electronic cigarettes were described to the 33% of respondents that were not already aware of electronic cigarettes could have a dramatic effect on the likelihood that they might be willing to try them.  Just over a quarter of the respondents that were willing to try electronic cigarettes had not previously heard of them.

Specifying that a friend offered the electronic cigarette to them seems like a more than innocuous detail that could affect the answer more than the product in question.  Younger adolescents, non-smokers, and those with a negative view of smokers and smoking showed a much lower willingness to try electronic cigarettes.  Finally, of the 18% that were willing to try electronic cigarettes, “…13% were willing to try a plain e-cigarette, and an additional 5% were willing to try flavored e-cigarettes or both kinds.”  Surprisingly, this sounds like the existence of flavors isn’t as enticing as many individuals believe.

It’s not terribly surprising that adolescents are aware of a new product or innovation.  One could argue that this is the most market-aware generation ever to exist, doing almost nothing that isn’t saturated in advertising.  This could also the most disinterested generation to date — one over-saturated on stimulation and advertising-devised time-sinks (i.e. Facebook, iPhone games, reality TV, etc).  Even their language is focused on sending as much information as possible at a time.  I don’t mean this as a rant, merely an observation as to why high awareness but low interest in e-cig among teens might exist.

In short, adolescents may be aware of electronic cigarettes and even willing to try them, but the true culprit in the mix remains tobacco cigarettes and the continued coolness factor they exude due to adult driven marketing claiming that they aren’t cool.  Kids are hip to that jive.



35 Responses to “New Study: Kids Don’t Care About E-Cigs”

      josh on January 29th, 2013 4:35 pm

      that’s really surprising to me it seemed like ecigs would be really appealing to kids I mean shoot if my kid was a teen and got a hold of an e cig I would be less concerned then if he got a hold o an actual cigarette but maybe it gose along with the whole teen rebellion thing just doing things that are bad for you because Its what your parents or society tells you not to do maybe if they were outlawed nock on wood teens would be more apt to use them lol just a theory

        Michelle on January 29th, 2013 5:41 pm

        Not surprising at all I have a friend that has a teenager and when he see’s me using my ego he says why don’t you just smoke a real cig and I say CAUSE I WANT TO LIVE lol

          brock pollard on January 29th, 2013 7:27 pm

          makes sense

            hallucinoJEN on January 29th, 2013 11:46 pm

            Using children to demonize e-cigs is a cop out the ANTZ use when they don’t have anything else to argue.

            Great article!

              GhOsT DoGg79 on January 30th, 2013 1:20 am

              makes total sense

                Mike on January 30th, 2013 1:21 am

                I have noticed I have to be careful talking about my new latest setup because my young nephew is a bit of a tech geek and instantly becomes interested. He hates smoke because his parents smoke. He however likes the idea of vaping because he says my juice smells so good! It’s still relatively new to the public, so I am not sure if their study holds any water at all.

                  Nathaniel on January 30th, 2013 3:19 am

                  Thank you for finally giving me something to show people when they ask that question!!

                    robovape on January 30th, 2013 5:41 am

                    wow… i’d have seriously thought that by now the kids would know more about ecigs than me and love them more because of the stealth aspect… you don’t know what i’d have given for something my parents didn’t smell on me when i came home… i’d have been all over this in high school…

                      Morrinb on January 30th, 2013 1:03 pm

                      Great article!

                        Amanda on January 30th, 2013 1:34 pm


                          Todd on January 30th, 2013 5:48 pm

                          Loved reading this one. It gets so very old always running into the “appeals to kids” argument. Another survey glad to see!

                            brock pollard on January 30th, 2013 6:09 pm

                            like it alot

                              Johnathan Brown (Sepsis) on January 30th, 2013 10:48 pm

                              I’ve said for a good while now that i really don’t see it appealing to any teenager unless they are a really tech nerdy geek kid.

                                slap_maxwell on January 31st, 2013 5:20 am

                                Sometimes these “Oh, the kids are gonna wanna do it” people are really giving short-shrift to teenagers and young adults these days. Most are more up to speed on things than folks give ’em credit for and aren’t likely to wanna do something just because some adult is doing it. Just the opposite, typically! 😉

                                  vapex-w on January 31st, 2013 1:48 pm

                                  I have yet to encounter a single cogent argument against e-cigs so far; those opposed to vaping are either misinformed and revel in their ignorance, or they are never informed at all and simply think that their opinion must be heard when talking about a subject they know nothing about. The former case is just stupidity doing what stupidity does best – f**king everything up for the rest of us who, ya know, read and stuff. The latter case is an instance of herd behavior where those who cannot form their own opinions tend to gather together and act as single unit; if everyone else is blindly condemning something then you bet your ass this type of person will jump right behind them in lock step because, well, they aren’t creative enough to formulate their own plans and opinions. These “critics” we face in the vaping world aren’t really critics at all, because actual criticism requires a significant knowledge base pertaining to the subject of said criticism.

                                  And now look, a study is published by a bunch of herd constituents which effectively says, ‘No, there is not a significant risk of this becoming a gateway to nicotine addiction and of the survey participants only a negligible fraction (%1) have admitted to trying an electronic cigarette.’ But instead of delivering the data without bias they call for negative campaigns against e-cigs and FDA intervention.

                                  And why didn’t they include the 2 who had tried e-cigs in any further questions? I have a personal hypothesis about this: they didn’t want to have to report what those kids really thought about vaping. No, we can’t ask the kids who’ve tried it, they may offer evidence showing that once they did try e-cigs that they didn’t have any desire to continue using one. I have found that the only people who stick with vaping over the long-term (years) are those who were decades-under-their-belt analog smokers who manged to quit smoking by replacing their tobacco intake with e-cig intake.

                                  This study is a joke. Prohibition is a joke. The government is not your friend.

                                    saboinia on January 31st, 2013 2:51 pm

                                    makes a lot of sence…….e ciggis are for adults no kids………………..big tobbacco lobbiests for ya

                                      John "Shub" Fellhoelter on January 31st, 2013 3:01 pm

                                      I have also noticed that the younger the smoker is, the less they care about ecigarettes… They feel “cooler” to smoke the easier thing.. the analog. Just spark it up and inhale… no messing with technological stuff and ways to get confused. People don’t really start caring about their health until they received or experienced some repricussions over it. I would much prefer my younger smoking friends vaped… it’s a shame.

                                        Dave Holmes on January 31st, 2013 10:04 pm

                                        Kids see the ecig as a device to quit smoking, unfortunately kids want real cigarettes. “As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.” – Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler

                                          chuck on February 1st, 2013 1:34 am

                                          Most kids aren’t going to go out of their way to try an ecig, especially as their first exposure to nicotine. They are just gonna try one of their friends or parents regular cigs.

                                            best electronic cigarettes UK on February 1st, 2013 2:38 pm

                                            I don’t think so there is any harm if teens were vaping to quit smoking. But the reality is, most are just smoking tobacco to look “cool” or to “fit in” and that is unacceptable .

                                              Courtney on February 2nd, 2013 12:14 am

                                              Good article. With e cigs age controlled its no different than reg cigs or alcohol. kids rebel, not the opposite. most ecig ads lead consumers to steer away from conventional cigs. where as a pack of Marlboros is “rebellious”.

                                                Donald Hammond on February 2nd, 2013 10:53 am

                                                I would think ecids are way to healthy for kids to be interested

                                                  mrcrunch08 on February 2nd, 2013 11:44 pm

                                                  Nice post, I love how they twist stuff and try to make the results what they want it to be.

                                                    Chad on February 3rd, 2013 6:23 pm

                                                    ecigs don’t make me cooler? Damn! Foiled again!

                                                      Karla Lyle (MsV8PR) on February 4th, 2013 12:56 am

                                                      There are flavored liquors too but you don’t see them saying that is for d kids. Are adults only supposed to use stuff that tastes like crap?

                                                        Ralph on February 4th, 2013 11:35 pm

                                                        damn kids today

                                                          Clawfield on February 6th, 2013 3:17 am

                                                          I would figure that kids would be trying the E-Cigs cause of the no smell and all that so they could hide it from there parents or something.

                                                            Amanda on February 8th, 2013 1:11 pm

                                                            i wanna be hip : (

                                                              Ralph on March 10th, 2013 9:13 am

                                                              ive never seen a kid with a ecig, its not cool enough for them

                                                                RCO67 on March 13th, 2013 7:53 am

                                                                Kids think they are immortal and also are attracted to the bad press of tobacco. ” Look at me ! I’m a risk taking, rebellious young person ! “

                                                                  stogismkr on March 28th, 2013 9:13 pm

                                                                  Makes sense.

                                                                    andrew on September 4th, 2013 12:24 pm

                                                                    people use ecigs because they smoke and dont want to live with the side effects of smoking cigarette; which include not being able to taste things any more, loss of sense of smell, shortness of breath, bad odor, empty wallet, constantly being told how bad it is and that you should quit…… oh, yeah and one more inconveint thing early and painfull death.

                                                                    kids, i wish they would use ecigs instead of combustables but the fact of the matter is they are looking for the biggest head rush, they arent thinking of the adverse health effects (they havent experienced the ills of smoking yet). kids will also do whatever they are told NOT to do. i was young once. when told not to smoke i smoked.

                                                                    the good news behind all of this is that while surely kids will try tobacco and enough of them will get addicted, the fact of the matter is that they will most likely NOT become life-long smokers and the odds of them dying from it have just gone down dramatically in the last few years. that is thanks to the vaping industry. if the government succesfully taxes them out of existance or outright bans them, all progress will be lost.

                                                                    most kids that pick up cigarette i think will smoke for less then 10 years. once they start the feel the negitive effects and start to feel like crap from smoking they will look for other options.

                                                                    would be nice if kids just stopped picking up cigarettes but that is unlikely. once you get over the intial yuk of that first cigarette, its too enjoyable until the addiction sets in, then it just sucks. its also been demonized and made into a forbidden fruit. allot of that talk just makes kids want them more. when told not to smoke they will.

                                                                    as far as big tobacco in the US, YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED and they have been for quite some time. that is why they have been in full attack in the third world countires, and they have been getting away with it UNTIL the cancer and death rates catch up to them

                                                                      Rhys on October 7th, 2013 12:43 am


                                                                      In regards to whether e-cigs appeal to children, I would take the opinion of an out of touch, life long non smoking adult, over the opinion of an actual child…

                                                                      Kids only “think they know everything”… Adults ‘do’ know everything….


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