Background: Not much is known about how people in the Netherlands respond to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes); how many know about them, which people try them, keep using them and why, and what are changes over time regarding awareness and use?
Methods: We used samples of smokers aged 15 years and older from 2008 (n=1820), 2010 (n=1702), 2013 (n=1530), and 2014 (n=1550) as part of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Netherlands Survey. Reasons for use and characteristics of smokers were examined using the sample from 2014. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to evaluate the associations between smoking-related variables with ever trying e-cigarettes and current e-cigarette use.
Results: In 2014, 91.4% of Dutch smokers reported being aware of e-cigarettes (97.1% in 2008, 89.2% in 2010, and 85.5% in 2013), 40.0% reported having ever tried them (13.4% in 2008, 14.5% in 2010, and 19.6% in 2013), and 15.9% were currently using them (4.0% in 2008, 1% in 2010, and 3.9% in 2013). The main reason given for using e-cigarettes was to reduce the number of regular cigarettes smoked per day (79%). Ever trying e-cigarettes among those aware of e-cigarettes was associated with being young, smoking more regular cigarettes per day, having made a quit attempt in the last year, having used smoking cessation pharmacotherapy in the last year, and reporting high awareness of the price of regular cigarettes. Smokers who kept using e-cigarettes had a higher educational background, had higher harm awareness for the health of others, and were less likely to have a total smoking ban at home.
Conclusion: E-cigarettes are increasingly used by Dutch smokers. Commonly endorsed motivations for current e-cigarette use were to reduce tobacco smoking and because e-cigarettes are considered to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.
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