Predicting Adolescent Electronic Cigarette Use: Differences by Never, Ever, and Current Users

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Pediatric Psychology








Adolescents; Health behavior; Risk behavior; Tobacco use


Objective: Rising rates of adolescent electronic cigarette (ECIG) use is concerning because it can lead to adverse health outcomes and increased risk behavior. There are known predictors of ever versus never ECIG use, but less are known about risk factors for ever versus current use of ECIGs. Problem behavior theory (PBT) was used to evaluate possible risk factors for different ECIG use status. Methods: Participants were 573 high school students who completed questionnaires measuring ECIG use, as well as constructs within the Social Environment, Perceived Environment, Personality, and Behavior domains of PBT. Multinomial logistic regression was used to evaluate how predictor variables differentiated between participants who reported (a) never use, (b) ever ECIG use, or (c) current ECIG use. Results: Adolescents were more likely to endorse ever ECIG use than never use if they reported peer ECIG use, perceived more benefits and fewer costs (e.g., health) of ECIG use, higher extraversion, alcohol and cigarette use (never vs. ever vs. past 30 days), or attended a school with a higher percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Adolescents were more likely to report current ECIG use than ever ECIG use if they perceived fewer costs of ECIG use or used cannabis in their lifetime (yes/no). Conclusions: PBT variables differentiated between ever ECIG use and never ECIG use. However, these variables did not differentiate between ever and current ECIG use. Identifying unique risk factors for current versus ever ECIG use is important to understanding persistent ECIG use and subsequent targeted prevention and intervention programs.