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culture, electronic nicotine delivery systems, young adult



  1. Tremblay, Beth MSN, RN
  2. Turk, Melanie T. PhD, RN
  3. Cooper, Maria R. PhD
  4. Zoucha, Richard PhD, PMHCNS-BC, CTN-A, FAAN


Background: The causal link between cigarettes and cardiovascular disease is well known. The long-term effects of e-cigarettes are yet unknown, although early studies show biomarkers indicating inflammation and damage to endothelial cells associated with later development of cardiovascular disease. With the rapid rise in e-cigarette use, especially in young adults, it is imperative that health professionals understand the knowledge, perceptions, and motivations for use among young adults.


Objectives: The purpose of this integrative review is to explore existing literature on young adults' knowledge, attitudes, values, and perceptions about e-cigarettes, as well as the social norms they experience.


Methods: The Whittemore and Knafl model for integrative review guided the methodology. Three databases were searched from January 2010 through December 2018. The study selection process followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied. Studies were evaluated for quality and strength. Key themes were extracted, coded, and synthesized.


Results: Seventy-one full-text studies were assessed for inclusion criteria; 15 articles were included, coded, and analyzed for quality and thematic content. Current e-cigarette users represented just 3% to 35% of study participants. Three themes arose from a synthesis of the literature: "Is it bad for me?," "I just like it," and "Is it cool or not?"


Conclusions: Young adults are not armed with the accurate knowledge to make informed choices about using e-cigarettes. E-cigarette users are understudied and tend to value appearance and physical sensation over health. Social norms related to e-cigarette use are linked to perception of identity and the current technology-focused culture.