Date of Award

Spring 3-29-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Respiratory Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Lynda T. Goodfellow

Second Advisor

Dr. Arzu Ari

Third Advisor

Ralph D. Zimmerman



Background: Electronic cigarettes are used to deliver nicotine to consumers. E-cigarettes are claimed to be an alternative method for smoking cessation. The use of electronic cigarettes is increasing among young people, especially current and former smokers. It is unknown what the harm or benefit that result from e-cigarettes’ use of the individuals on the well-being.

Purpose: This study was conducted to explore the prevalence of e-cigarettes use and exposure among college-based health care students. Also to assess the awareness level and beliefs in regard to electronic cigarettes use among the college-based health care students.

Methods: 217 college-based health care undergraduate students from nursing, nutrition and respiratory therapy programs were surveyed in this study. The survey was composed of 17 questions in regards to the awareness, prevalence of e-cigarettes use and beliefs about e-cigarettes use. The data analysis included descriptive statistics, independent sample t-test and one-way ANOVA. A significance level was set at 0.05.

Results: The response rate was 98.1%, 87% of the respondents were female and 70% were between the ages of 19-25 years. Most of the respondents were nursing students (47.5%); followed by nutrition students (29.5%); and respiratory therapy students (23%). Most of the respondents were non-smokers (83.4%); former smokers were 13.8%; and smokers were 2.8%. Almost all the respondents had heard of e-cigarettes (99.5%), and 21.2% had tried e-cigarettes at least once in their lifetime. The mean awareness score was 5.1 (SD 0.11); smokers showed the highest mean awareness score of 6.0±2.28. The majority of the participants disagreed that e-cigarettes are less dangerous than traditional cigarettes or can help smokers to quit; and more than half of the participants disagreed that e-cigarettes are used only by smokers. There was a significant difference among male (5.71±1.51) and female (5.03±1.71) in regards to the e-cigarettes awareness level (p=0.047). The awareness level was significantly different among respondents who had previously used e-cigarettes (5.63±1.49) than participants who have not tried e-cigarettes at least once during their lifetime (4.98±1.72) (p=0.021)

Conclusion: This study found that most of the students in the college of nursing and health professions were not e-cigarettes’ users. People who have tried e-cigarettes, have friends who have tried e-cigarettes as well. Furthermore, curiosity is the major reason that led them to try e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes’ awareness is high among smokers and e-cigarettes’ users; older students seem to have higher awareness than younger students. There were general disagreements on the use of e-cigarettes as a less dangerous alternative to tobacco cigarettes to help smokers to quit. Finally, male and female participants showed significant differences in their awareness of e-cigarettes.