Original article| Volume 67, ISSUE 1, P46-52, July 2020

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How and Why California Young Adults Are Using Different Brands of Pod-Type Electronic Cigarettes in 2019: Implications for Researchers and Regulators



      The aim of the study was to describe young adult use and perceptions of different brands of pod-based electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and compare with earlier types of non-pod-based e-cigarettes (e.g., mods and tanks).


      Data were collected from January to March 2019 and derive from the final wave of a cohort study recruited in 2013–2014 using a convenience sample from 10 large California high schools with racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse populations. A total of 445 participants completed an online survey (mean age = 20.1 years [SD = 1.66], 64.8% female [n = 278], 38.8% white [n = 161], 23.9% each for Asian and “more than one race” [n = 99], 13.5% other [n = 56], and 36.9% Hispanic [n = 160]). The main outcomes were description of and reasons to use pods, perceived nicotine content, and use patterns.


      Although <25% of participants reported smoking cigarettes and using non-pod-based e-cigarettes, >25% reported ever use of JUUL. Similarly, <33% of cigarette smokers and non-pod-based e-cigarette users reported use in the past 30 days, and >50% of JUUL ever users did. The most agreed upon reason (58%) for using pods was because they are “easy to hide.” About half of pod users “do not know” if they mix brands of e-juice and pods, the nicotine concentration in their e-juice cartridges, nor time to finish a cartridge. Of the 50% of participants who shared their pod, 23 (15%) did “sometimes,” 20 (13%) “always,” and 16 (11% each) “about half the time” or “often.” There was no consensus about how to refer to different brands of pods.


      Our findings indicate young adults harbor confusion about pod-based e-cigarettes, including nicotine content, usage patterns, and labeling, and that pod use is largely because of the ease with which they can “stealth” vape. The findings suggest needed regulation and education about these products.


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