Vaping has recently increased in popularity among adolescents. Little is known about heterogeneity of vapers, particularly in terms of why they vape. Identifying major subgroups of adolescent vapers by reasons for vaping is important to understand adolescent vaping behavior and to identify those most at risk for other substance use.
Monitoring Future data from 2015 and 2016 were used in a latent class analysis to identify subgroups of 12th graders based on their endorsement of 10 potential reasons for vaping. Multinomial regression with a latent class outcome was used to predict class membership.
Three distinct classes of vapers were identified: adolescents who were (1) Vaping to Experiment (29.4%), (2) Vaping to Replace Cigarettes (7.3%), and (3) Vaping for Taste + Entertainment (63.4%). Vaping only flavors was associated with lower odds of membership and cigarette use was associated with higher odds of membership in the Vaping to Replace Cigarettes subgroup, and marijuana was associated with lower odds of membership in the Vaping to Experiment subgroup, compared with the Vaping for Taste + Entertainment subgroup.
This study identified multiple subgroups of vapers based on reasons for vaping. Whereas a small subgroup vaped for reasons related to cigarette use, most adolescent vapers reported vaping for reasons unrelated to cigarette use. There were considerable differences in primary reasons for vaping and risk for traditional cigarette and other substance use, suggesting different intervention strategies may be needed for different subgroups of vapers.