The aim of our study was to explore reasons for starting and then stopping electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use. Among a national sample of 3878 U.S. adults who reported ever trying e-cigarettes, the most common reasons for trying were curiosity (53%); because a friend or family member used, gave, or offered e-cigarettes (34%); and quitting or reducing smoking (30%). Nearly two-thirds (65%) of people who started using e-cigarettes later stopped using them. Discontinuation was more common among those whose main reason for trying was not goal-oriented (e.g., curiosity) than goal-oriented (e.g., quitting smoking) (81% vs
. 45%, p
< 0.001). The most common reasons for stopping e-cigarette use were that respondents were just experimenting (49%), using e-cigarettes did not feel like smoking cigarettes (15%), and users did not like the taste (14%). Our results suggest there are two categories of e-cigarette users: those who try for goal-oriented reasons and typically continue using and those who try for non-goal-oriented reasons and then typically stop using. Research should distinguish e-cigarette experimenters from motivated users whose decisions to discontinue relate to the utility or experience of use. Depending on whether e-cigarettes prove to be effective smoking cessation tools or whether they deter cessation, public health programs may need distinct strategies to reach and influence different types of users.
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