Characteristics of users and usage of different types of electronic cigarettes: findings from an online survey

Etter, J.-F. (2016) Characteristics of users and usage of different types of electronic cigarettes: findings from an online survey. Addiction, 11: 724–733. doi: 10.1111/add.13240.



Studying users of e-cigarettes is important to help determine whether these devices aid smoking cessation. Obtaining data in representative samples is difficult, but online surveys of users may begin to build a picture. Therefore, this study aimed, through a large online survey, to describe usage and characteristics of users of e-cigarettes.


Cross-sectional internet survey between 2012 and 2014.

Setting and participants

A total of 2807 current e-cigarette users enrolled via e-cigarette and smoking cessation websites, who lived in France (n = 988), the United States (n = 579), Switzerland (n = 310), the United Kingdom (n = 143) and other countries (n = 787).


Type of e-cigarette used: pre-filled cartridges (n = 71), unmodified refillable tanks (n = 758), modified refillable tanks (n = 392), patterns of use, perceived effects.


Pre-filled models were perceived to be less effective than unmodified refillable tanks for smoking cessation by former smokers (‘definitely helped’: 74% vs. 94%, P < 0.001) and by current smokers for smoking reduction (‘definitely helped’: 37% vs. 78%, P < 0.001). Users modified their e-cigarettes mainly to obtain a better taste (‘very true’ 60%, 55.5–64.5%). Modified tanks were perceived to make it easier to abstain from smoking than unmodified tanks 95% vs. 89%, P < 0.001); 34% of users of pre-filled cartridges, 60% of users of unmodified tanks and 83% of users of modified tanks were men (P < 0.001).


Newer-generation e-cigarettes were perceived to be more satisfactory and more effective for refraining from smoking than older models. Women tended to use pre-filled, unmodified models, which were perceived by participants to be the least effective in terms of abstaining from smoking.


January 13, 2016

Access the full article here: Wiley Online

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