Perceived risk and benefits of e-cigarette use among college students

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Recent data demonstrates that the use of e-cigarettes is growing, especially among college students and young adults. This trend is increasingly problematic, as many of these individuals report never using traditional tobacco cigarettes, but nevertheless are using e-cigarettes. The present study sought to develop the Risks and Benefits of E-cigarettes (RABE) questionnaire to assess the perceptions about e-cigarette use among college students. College students (N=734) completed the RABE via online survey. Principal components analysis yielded two reliable scales representing perceptions about e-cigarette use. Based on the two-factor solution, subscales were named according to item content. The resulting 30 items demonstrated excellent internal consistency (Risks scale α=0.92; Benefits scale α=0.89). Subsequent confirmatory factor analysis generally supported the 2-factor structure. As an initial measure of construct validity, scale scores were compared across smoking status groups. Smoking status groups were defined by the following: "e-cigarette users" were current daily users of e-cigarettes, "conventional smokers" were daily traditional cigarette users, and "dual users" were individuals who used both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes daily. Scale scores for perceived Benefits of e-cigarette use differed significantly across groups (p<0.001), whereby students who reported using e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes reported benefits associated with e-cigarette use. Scale scores for perceived Risks of e-cigarette use across smoking status groups did not significantly differ. The present results indicate that the RABE is a reliable instrument to measure college student's perceived risks and benefits of e-cigarettes.

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Addictive behaviors

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