Life Insurance

New Survey on Vaping: 1 in 10 Vapers Start Before They Turn 18 and Other Findings

ValuePenguin conducted a survey and found that 1 in 10 vapers started using before they turned 18. Additionally, despite the fact that questions around the safety of vaping are mounting, over 40% of vapers believe these claims are exaggerated. Furthermore, nearly one-third of vapers say they will continue to vape despite any health concerns.

Key take-aways

  • Roughly 1 in 10 vapers started using e-cigarettes before they turned 18, which is the legal age required to purchase these products.
  • About 2 in 5 vapers think safety concerns about vaping are being exaggerated by the media.
  • Men are 35% more likely to say health concerns are being exaggerated compared to their female counterparts, despite making up for 70% of the victims of recent lung injuries.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 vapers said they'll continue vaping despite the related illnesses and deaths.
  • Men are twice as likely as women to feel pressured to vape in a social setting.

Why do people vape?

E-cigarettes were originally marketed as a way to help those addicted to cigarettes quit smoking. However, our survey found there are a number of reasons vapers choose to vape. Roughly 1 in 6 vapers say they do so for medical purposes.

Chart of the percentage of survey respondats who listed various reasons for vaping

Vaping has become increasingly popular, especially among people who have previously been addicted to cigarettes. About 1 in 5 of our respondents have reportedly vaped within the past month, and nearly 70% of this population said they've also been addicted to cigarettes in the past. The number of overall respondents who have vaped increases to 39% if you include those who have not done so in the last month.

Vaping frequencyPercentage of vapers
Occasional (1–20 times)52.8%
Moderate (21–50 times)19.7%
Heavy users (>50 times)27.5%

With 59% of respondents reporting to have vaped, Gen Z barely edges out millennials as the generation most likely to vape. However when only considering those who have vaped recently, within the last month, the trend is reversed — with about 33% of millennials reportedly vaping within the last month comparedt to 31% of Gen Zers. Furthermore, 1 in 10 vapers started using e-cigarettes before they turned 18, the legal age required to purchase those products. The greatest portion of those who started vaping before the age of 18 belonged to Gen Z.

Graph of the percentage of each generation that admitted to vaping in our survey

A significant percentage of vapers are purchasing their cartridges from dangerous sources. Vapers in our survey reported to buy products online and from family members and other individuals (nonfamily). The CDC has reported that cartridges from informal sources such as these are causing many vaping-related lung diseases.

Where do you purchase the cartridges for your vaping device? (multiple selections allowed)Percentage of responses
Convenience stores31%
Online23%
Legalized recreational dispensaries21%
Medical dispensaries19%
Another person (nonfamily)10%
Family member6%
Somewhere else17%

In addition to sourcing vape cartridges from informal sources, many vapers add to the danger by using vapes to consume THC. According to our survey, 46% of the vaping population say they vape with THC some of the time. The CDC has recommended that people avoid THC vaping products, as they can cause a number of injuries.

Apart from the controversy surrounding the health concerns of vaping, many vapers who responded to our survey reported more far-reaching impacts on their lives. For example, nearly 30% of vapers said their vaping has caused arguments within the last month. An additional 17% said they had vaping-related arguments, but not in the last 30 days. Furthermore, according to our survey, the average vaper spends $171.47 per year on vaping-related products.

Our survey found that most respondents (55%) are under the misconception that vaping will not impact their life insurance rates. However, we also found that men were 27% more likely to have this misconception than their female counterparts. This is somewhat ironic, given that in a previous survey, ValuePenguin has found that men are more likely to own a life insurance policy than women.

How vapers feel about health concerns surrounding vaping

Awareness about the health concerns related to vaping is high, but vapers are skeptical of the actual consequences. More than 90% of respondents said they are aware of the recent reports about the illnesses and deaths linked to vaping. However, 41% also say these reports have been exaggerated by the media.

Graph of how vapers feel about reports of vaping-related illness and deaths.

The demographic that is among the least concerned about the health risks of e-cigarettes make up a large portion of those who have reported lung injuries. Recent CDC reports state that 70% of the victims of recent lung injuries are male. This is somewhat ironic, given that in our survey, men were 35% more likely to believe that health risks associated with vaping are exaggerated compared to their female counterparts.

Although 6 in 10 of those who used an e-cigarette within the last month believe vaping causes health problems, 59% think the benefits outweigh the costs. Nearly 1 in 3 vapers said they'll continue doing so despite the reported illnesses and deaths. An additional 30% are trying to cut back but haven't yet, and 39% said the health concerns made them stop vaping altogether. Baby boomers who vape are most likely to say they'll continue doing so, in spite of reports of health concerns.

Men are more than twice as likely than women to have vaped in the past month

Nearly 3 in 10 of our male respondents say they have vaped in the past month compared to only 14% of our female respondents. A possible contributor to this discrepancy is that men are twice as likely as women to feel pressured to vape in a social setting.

Graph comparing the percentage of men and women who have reported to have vaped.

Methodology

ValuePenguin commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,226 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the general population. The survey was fielded October 15–17, 2019.

Bailey Peterson

Bailey is a Research Analyst at ValuePenguin, covering insurance. He graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. Bailey's analysis has been featured by CNBC, the Houston Chronicle and the National Transportation Bureau Safety Board.

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