Skip to content

‘One size does not fit all’ when addressing vaping by college students

Study findings at a Hispanic-serving university suggest that prevention and quitting programs should consider the specific needs of different groups

Although young adults in the United States today smoke far fewer cigarettes than their predecessors did a decade ago, their use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products has surged, making this group the nation’s leading consumer of these products.

Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), also known as e-hookahs, tank systems, vapes and mods, work by heating a liquid to produce an inhalable aerosol. And like their tobacco-based counterparts, they also are associated with serious health outcomes, including irritation of the mouth, throat and lungs, nausea, reduced cardiovascular function and asthma.

In addition, e-cigarette users are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression—and college students who use e-cigarettes are more likely to experience attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms—compared to those who have never vaped.

“These are the some of the outcomes we know about so far, but the long-term effects of e-cigarette use remain to be seen, since ENDS were introduced to the United States in 2007 and became popular several years after that,” said Taehyun Roh, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics in the Texas A&M University School of Public Health. “We wanted to find out more about the young adults who use e-cigarettes so they could make informed decisions about vaping.”

For the study, published in the Journal of Community Health, Roh’s research team surveyed 316 undergraduate students at a Hispanic-serving university in Texas. Roh worked with School of Public Health colleague Genny Carrillo, PhD, Sherecce Fields, PhD, of Texas A&M’s College of Arts & Sciences, and School of Public Health graduate students Nusrat Fahmida and Ruchi Sahu to conduct the online survey from August through October 2023.

The survey asked respondents, all of whom were enrolled in classes in the university’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, about their vaping status, initiation age, reasons for first and current e-cigarette use, frequency of past usage, intentions to quit and quit attempt frequency. Of the 316 respondents, 76.3 percent were females and 31.2 percent were Hispanic, representing the target population.

The study found that 33.9 percent reported current e-cigarette use, with the majority being junior or senior students, and/or prior tobacco users. Hispanic students and those with a history of tobacco use were more likely to have prior vaping experience. While vaping behavior and quit attempt patterns were similar across other categories, 74.3 percent of current users—primarily females, Hispanic students and those with vaping acquaintances—had attempted to quit in the past year. Just over 29 percent reported using vaping products in the past but no longer do, and 37 percent reported that they had never vaped.

“By focusing on the unique characteristics of students’ vaping behavior at a single university, our study yielded nuanced insights that cannot be uncovered through larger, more generalized studies,” Roh said. “For example, our study suggests the need for multifaceted approaches to addressing vaping, including developing and delivering prevention and intervention strategies customized to specific population characteristics.”

Roh and his colleagues hope to formulate comprehensive, campus-wide initiatives for prevention and intervention through future research involving additional segments of the university’s student population.

Media contact:

Share This

Related Posts

Back To Top