Date of Award

Fall 1-9-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Shanta R. Dube

Second Advisor

Dr. Natalie D. Crawford

Abstract

Introduction: Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) debuted in 2006 within the U.S market as novel tobacco products and have been gaining popularity since. Without enforced regulations, prevalence of awareness and use has significantly increased. The purpose of this study is to explore the evolving landscape of ENDS using the Host, Agent, Vector, Environment (HAVE) model with a focus on manufactured e-liquids and do it yourself (DIY) e-liquids as the Agent.

Methods: Content analysis of e-cigarette web forums was conducted to identify popular brick and mortar point of sales (POS) for the purchase of ENDS products. POS were mapped out within a 1-, 2-, and 3- mile radius from three college campuses using Google Maps. An environmental scan was then conducted on randomly selected POS sites (N=17) where observations on e-liquid flavors and characteristics were identified. In addition, a content analysis of web forums was used to qualitatively characterize DIY e-liquids in depth.

Results: A total of 602 flavors were profiled in the POS environmental scans and five main flavor categories of e-liquids were identified: 1) Tobacco and Menthol (16.6%); 2) Desserts and Candies (16.6%); 3) Fruits (20.6%); 4) Drinks (10.1%); 5) Other (36.0%). Most flavored e-liquids were sold in stand-alone vials (91.0%). When sold with manufactured products, flavored e-liquids were sold in E-Hookahs (10.6%) compared to E-Cigarettes (4.7%). Most (96.8%) flavored e-liquids were available with and without nicotine. Based on content analysis of e-cigarette web forums, the words with the highest frequency in the DIY transcripts were: “flavor”, “mixing”, “liquid”, “calculators”, and “nicotine”.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that for both manufactured and DIY e-liquids, flavors are a distinguishing and primary characteristic. Given these findings, increased surveillance efforts to monitor ENDS and e-liquids are necessary to inform regulatory science.

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