An Observational Study of Vaping Knowledge and Perceptions in a Sample of U.S. Adults.

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Background Vaping is the use of e-cigarettes that contain inhalants such as nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol, and cannabidiol. Vaping is associated with e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury (EVALI) and is a recognized public health crisis. Despite rising numbers of hospitalizations due to EVALI, public knowledge and perceptions of the dangers of vaping require further investigation. Objectives This exploratory study assessed knowledge and perceptions of vaping in U.S. adults. Methods This study was approved by an ethical board, and informed consent was obtained from all participants. A cohort of U.S. adults was recruited by shared links on social media. Participants completed an anonymous online survey that contained vaping knowledge and perceptions items. An a priori power analysis was conducted at 95% power and alpha = 0.05. Statistics were calculated using IBM SPSS Statistics Version 26 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA). Results A sample of 413 (N = 413) U.S. adults participated in the survey. The majority of participants (79.18%) were females, and 65.62% were between 18 and 24 years of age. Over half (62.71%) of participants were never asked about vaping use by a clinician at any visit, and 56.51% agreed that vaping can reduce stress. Of all participants, 70.91% agreed that drinking alcohol makes someone more inclined to vape. Significant positive Spearman’s rho correlations were found between vaping and the use of cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, and inhalants (p < 0.05). Conclusions We found a significant correlation between vaping and drug use. We also found that if the dangers of vaping are discussed by their health care providers, participants are more inclined to quit vaping. Unfortunately, many physicians report that they avoid discussing vaping with their patients due to lack of vaping knowledge. Our results illuminate the communication gap between patients and physicians. All clinicians need to counsel patients on the dangers of vaping, which might help prevent EVALI and related conditions.

Keywords: addiction; e-cigarette and vaping product use associated lung injury (evali); electronic cigarettes; lung injury; pulmonary; vaping.

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