Nicotine concentration of e-cigarettes used by adolescents.

Drug and alcohol dependence

PubMedID: 27592270

Morean ME, Kong G, Cavallo DA, Camenga DR, Krishnan-Sarin S. Nicotine concentration of e-cigarettes used by adolescents. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016;.
E-cigarettes are popular among youth, but little is known about the nicotine concentrations of e-liquids used by adolescents.

In Spring, 2014, we conducted cross-sectional surveys in four Connecticut high schools and two middle schools. Among past-30-day e-cigarette users (n=513, 45% female, mean age 15.9 [SD=1.4]), we examined what nicotine concentration adolescents typically used in their e-cigarettes (range 0-30mg/mL and "I don't know"). We first examined whether age, sex, smoking status, e-cigarette use frequency, and/or e-cigarette acquisition source were associated with using nicotine-free e-liquid, nicotine e-liquid, or not knowing the e-liquid nicotine concentration. Among nicotine users (n=185), we then examined whether the aforementioned variables were associated with using higher nicotine concentrations.

Adolescents reported using nicotine-free e-liquid (28.5%), nicotine e-liquid (37.4%), or not knowing their e-liquid nicotine concentration (34.1%). Nicotine users comprised more smokers and heavier e-cigarette users compared to nicotine-free e-liquid users and those who did not know their nicotine concentration. Nicotine users also comprised more males and were more likely to purchase e-cigarettes online or from tobacco shops compared to those who did not know their nicotine concentration. Among nicotine users, cigarette smoking, male sex, and purchasing e-cigarettes from tobacco shops predicted using higher nicotine concentrations.

Adolescents reported using e-liquids with variable nicotine concentrations. Smokers, males, and those who purchased their own e-cigarettes reported using the highest nicotine levels. Of concern, many adolescents were unaware of the nicotine concentration in their e-liquid, raising concerns about inadvertent nicotine exposure among youth.