Association between Perceived Discrimination and Vaping among College Students


Background: Perceived discrimination has been associated with a higher prevalence of e-cigarette use among adult samples. However, little is understood about the relationship between discrimination and various vaping behaviors among college students. Methods: College students completed an online survey about e-cigarette use (N = 488; 73.2% women; 52.7% White, 30.5% Black/African American, 6.1% Asian, 5.3% other races, 3.9% Multiracial). Participants completed the Everyday Discrimination Scale and identified which of their identities discrimination was most directed toward. Regressions, controlling for significant covariates of outcomes, examined discrimination in relation to e-cigarette ever use, current use, and frequency of use. Results: A higher discrimination score predicted greater odds of ever vaping compared with never use (OR = 1.21, p=.03). Controlling for race (p=.003), greater discrimination was related to increased likelihood of established vaping (100+ times) versus lighter levels of use (AOR = 1.22, p=.04). Discrimination was not associated with likelihood of current vaping (p>.05). Among e-cigarette users, greater perceived discrimination was related to an increased time spent vaping per day (β =1.69, SE = 0.204, p=.05). Conclusions/Importance: Greater perceived discrimination was associated with more frequent vaping among college students. Current results extend previous findings by suggesting that among college e-cigarette users, those who experience discrimination are more likely to use these products frequently rather than experimentally. Findings can inform the identification and development of resources for students experiencing discrimination to prevent the uptake of e-cigarette use.

Publication Title

Substance Use and Misuse