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The association between problematic alcohol use, risk perceptions, and e-cigarette use

E-cigarette use has been on the rise in recent years, especially in the college student population. This may be due to vaping seen as less harmful than traditional cigarettes. College students have also been seen to have a higher risk of heavy drinking. Since e-cigarette use has been shown to have an association with alcohol, this study focuses on the interaction between the two. It also looks at how perception around e-cigarettes effects its use.

To complete this study, 1,133 undergraduate students were surveyed over two years (November 2014- November 2016). To gather appropriate data, participants where asked about demographics, smoking status/history, and perceptions around smoking.  What the researchers found was higher levels of drinking and higher positive perceptions around e-cigarette use led to more of chance of those participants trying e-cigarettes. This relationship was found regardless of the participants previous traditional cigarette use. They did not find any relationship between drinking and perceived benefits or risks of e-cigarette use. They also did not find a relationship between participants risk perceptions around e-cigarette use and actual e-cigarette use.

This research shows that there is an increased risk of using e-cigarettes in college student who use a problematic amount of alcohol and have a positive perception of e-cigarettes. This can lead to further risks in that e-cigarettes use can influence other behaviors such as problematic drinking or traditional cigarette use. Targeted interventions can be implemented using this information to ensure that students are becoming educated on these increased risks.  

Take Away: With e-cigarette use in the rise, especially in college students, there needs to be a focus on its effects and trajectories of substance use surrounding them. This study looked at the correlation between problematic drinking, positive and negative perceptions around e-cigarettes, and the relationship between them.  They found that college students who participated in problematic drinking and had a positive perception of e-cigarettes were more likely to use them. This information can be used when creating interventions and education for college students about the risks of e-cigarette use.

Roys, M. R., Peltier, M. R., Stewart, S. A., Waters, A. F., Waldo, K. M., & Copeland, A. L. (2019). The association between problematic alcohol use, risk perceptions, and e-cigarette use. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 1–8. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2019.1654486

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