Date of Award

Spring 1-9-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor

Michael P Eriksen

Second Advisor

Shanta R Dube

Third Advisor

Gregory B Lewis

Fourth Advisor

Kymberle L Sterling


The three research studies included in this dissertation aimed to examine the reasons for e-cigarette use among U.S. adults, and to examine the U.S. public opinion on allowing e-cigarette use where smoking is otherwise prohibited. Mixed (quantitative and qualitative) research methods were used. Data from an online survey (2012) and focus groups (2014) were analyzed. Among 307 survey respondents who had ever used e-cigarettes, the three most common reasons for e-cigarette use were curiosity (40.8%), the belief that “it helps people quit smoking” (19.1%), and perceiving e-cigarettes “less harmful than regular cigarettes” (9.3%). About 40% of U.S. adults were uncertain whether e-cigarette use should be allowed in smoke-free public areas, 37% opposed, while 23% favored allowing their use in smoke-free environments. The majority of the focus group participants have used e-cigarettes to complement regular cigarette smoking and intake nicotine where smoking is restricted. E-cigarette use was viewed to be less harmful and more convenient than smoking regular cigarettes. The findings of the three studies suggest that curiosity about e-cigarettes lead to experimentation and the convenience to use e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas lead to continual use. With impending regulation and the changing e-cigarette landscape, there is a need for continued monitoring and research on reasons for and attitudes about e-cigarette use, and on public opinion pertaining to e-cigarette use in smoke-free areas.