Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

James M. Henson

Committee Member

Kristin E. Heron

Committee Member

Mary L. Still


Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use has increased among the U.S. population in recent years with estimates showing that nearly 15% of American adults have tried an e-cigarette (Villarroel et al., 2020). Problem Behavior Theory (PBT) has successfully outlined a variety of factors that affect an individual’s engagement in an identified problem behavior. In an attempt to better understand e-cigarette use among an emerging adult population (i.e., college student population), the purpose of the current study was to explore how a large subset of PBT factors may differentiate between e-cigarette user categories (nonuser, non-daily user, daily user). A sample of 487 college students over the age of 18 were collected from a Mid-Atlantic university. Positive-negative functions discrepancy (i.e., the difference between the endorsed reasons for using e-cigarettes and the endorsed reasons for not using e-cigarettes), sexual identity, other substance use (i.e., marijuana and alcohol), and control from parents and friends were identified as high-ranking splitting factors across user categories. Policy makers and prevention and intervention methods should tailor their approaches to target these factors. Such changes may result in the reduction of e-cigarette use among college students.


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