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Characterizing e-cigarette Use among Virginia Middle and High School Youth Using Confiscated Products

Sohee Ha, Dept. of Psychology, Cindy Miranda, Dept. of Psychology, & Alisha Eversole, Dept. of Psychology Graduate Student, with Dr. Caroline O. Cobb, Dept. of Psychology

Introduction: There has been heightened research interest on JUUL use among youth, but less information is available on the use of other electronic cigarette (e-cig) brands, like NJOY or Smok. Other than self-report, methods such as collection of confiscated e-cigs may provide an unbiased estimate of youth e-cig use behavior. This study aims to characterize e-cig use using confiscated products among middle and high school youth to inform prevention and intervention efforts. Methods: Confiscated e-cig products (N=62) were collected from Central Virginia public school districts during September 2019 - December 2019. Products were placed in a ziplock bag with a form completed by school personnel that included date, grade level, and possible side effects. Form details, product characteristics, and presence of tampering were recorded using a standardized instrument and double-data entry method. Data was analyzed using descriptive and bivariate statistics with SPSS V26. Results: E-cig device + liquid reservoir (i.e., a pod) comprised a majority of products confiscated (77.4%) followed by e-cig liquid only (17.7%) and e-cig device only (4.8%). The top two brands were NJOY Ace (40.3%) and JUUL (24.2%). Grades with the most confiscated products were 11th (30.6%), 8th (19.4%), and 9th (17.7%). Suspected tampering was present in about one-third of products. Middle school students (MSS; grades 6-8; n=15) preferred JUUL (n=8, 53%) while high school students (HSS; grades 9-12; n=39) preferred NJOY Ace (n=20, 51%). Blueberry and watermelon twist NJOY Ace flavors were common among HSS. Discussion: Pod mod brands other than JUUL were common among confiscated products. HSS appeared to prefer fruit flavored NJOY Ace pods, while MSS used JUUL (only available in tobacco/menthol flavor during data collection). HSS may prefer NJOY Ace due to available flavors, more mL per pod, and lower cost. Findings emphasize the need for greater restrictions and youth access controls for e-cigs. Current policies for age and pod mod flavors may not be sufficient to deter youth use.

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Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Caroline O. Cobb, Ph.D.


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

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VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


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Characterizing e-cigarette Use among Virginia Middle and High School Youth Using Confiscated Products