Understanding college students’ experiences using e-cigarettes and marijuana through qualitative interviews

Stephanie L. Clendennen, Shazia Rangwala, Aslesha Sumbe, Kathleen R. Case, Anna V. Wilkinson, Alexandra Loukas, Melissa B. Harrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the contexts in which college students use e-cigarettes and marijuana, perceptions about the benefits and harms, and health effects of use. Participants: College student e-cigarette and marijuana ever users (n = 20; 18-21 years old) from the Texas Adolescent Tobacco and Marketing Surveillance System (TATAMS). Methods: Participants completed a one-hour long online interview about their experiences using e-cigarettes and marijuana. Thematic content analysis in NVivo identified prominent themes. Results: Vaping nicotine and marijuana were preferred and perceived as normal, trendy and useful in circumventing smoke-free campus policies. Preference for nicotine versus marijuana fluctuates during the academic school year in response to campus restrictions and work and school-related activities. College students commonly experienced health effects (shortness of breath, wheezing) attributed to vaping, did not perceive their use as very harmful, and perceived their use as a college-related phase. Conclusions: Findings have implications for college-based health education, resources, and smoke-free policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of American College Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • college students
  • e-cigarette
  • health effects
  • marijuana
  • perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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