Introduction: Although e-cigarette use (‘‘vaping’’) is increasing in Canada, few attempts have been made to describe e-cigarette users (‘‘vapers’’). In this context, we conducted a study in Ottawa, Canada, to describe e-cigarette users’ perceptions of the benefits, harms and risks of e-cigarettes. We also collected information on why, how and where they use e-cigarettes as well as information on side effects. Methods: A 24-item online survey was administered to individuals who purchased e-cigarettes or e-cigarette-related supplies at one of Ottawa’s 17 e-cigarette shops. Descriptive analyses characterized respondents, and logistic regression models were fitted to evaluate the relationship between respondents’ characteristics and their perception of e-cigarette harms. Results: The mean age of the 242 respondents was 38.1 years (range: 16-70 years); 66% were male. Nearly all had smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime (97.9%). More than 80% indicated that quitting smoking was a very important reason for starting to use e-cigarettes and 60% indicated that they intend to stop using e-cigarettes at some point. About 40% reported experiencing some side effects within 2 hours of using e-cigarettes. Those who did not report experiencing any of the listed side effects had approximately 3.2 times higher odds of perceiving e-cigarettes as harmless than those who reported having side effects (odds ratio = 3.17; 95% confidence interval: 1.75-5.73). Conclusion: Our findings suggest that most e-cigarette users are using them to reduce or stop smoking cigarettes and perceive them as harmless. Due to our use of convenience sampling, the reader should be cautious in generalizing our findings to all Canadian e-cigarette users.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Cigarette smoking, Electronic cigarettes, Nicotine, Perception, Smoking cessation, Tobacco products
Journal Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada
Citation
Volesky, K.D., Maki, A., Scherf, C., Watson, L.M., Cassol, E, & Villeneuve, P. (2016). Characteristics of e-cigarette users and their perceptions of the benefits, harms and risks of e-cigarette use: Survey results from a convenience sample in Ottawa, Canada. Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada, 36(7), 130–138.