Publication Date



electronic cigarettes, smoking, residency, family medicine, demographics


Background: Since 2003, electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) have grown in popularity. E-cigs are often marketed as a safer, healthier alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes or as an aid for smoking cessation. However, the risks and benefits of e-cig use, as well as the beliefs that influence use or avoidance, are poorly understood.

Purpose: To assess our patient population’s perception or beliefs as they relate to e-cig use.

Methods: A 13-question survey regarding nicotine and e-cig use was distributed to English-speaking adult patients at Aurora St. Luke’s Family Practice Clinic from August 2015 to January 2016. Questions assessed patient demographics and smoking history as well as knowledge and opinions of e-cigs. Descriptive statistics were used to describe patient characteristics. Associations between patient characteristics and beliefs were analyzed using chi-squared tests and Fisher’s exact test, as appropriate. Significance was associated with P < 0.05.

Results: Across respondents (N = 100), patients were more likely to be female (60%) and of age 45–54 years. Patients either had heard about e-cigs through advertisements (48.9%) or by word of mouth (36.9%). Many believed that e-cigs could help others quit smoking (47.6%) and were a healthier smoking option over regular tobacco (47.5%). Only 21.7% of patients had ever tried e-cigs. Age, sex and race/ethnicity were not associated with trying e-cigs. Those who identified as ever-smokers were more likely to have tried e-cigs than never-smokers (P = 0.044). Additionally, current smokers were even more likely to have tried e-cigs than former or never smokers (P = 0.017). Smoking status was not associated with education and race/ethnicity. Views regarding cost and whether e-cigs were a good choice for cessation also were not associated with smoking status.

Conclusion: Smoking status significantly affects whether a patient has tried e-cigs, with current smokers being most likely to have tried them. Demographic characteristics were not associated with use or opinions of e-cigs. Future studies should be done to assess use and attitudes in other clinic settings as well as use within our adolescent patient populations.