Background There is an increased need to understand how e-cigarette flavors may contribute to e-cigarette uptake and use among youth. We examined the relationship between perceived ease of flavored e-cigarette use and e-cigarette use susceptibility and progression among a nationally representative sample of U.S. youth never tobacco users. Methods The wave 1 (2013–2014) and wave 2 (2014–2015) surveys of PATH Study were used. Youth never tobacco users (ages 12–17) who reported whether flavored e-cigarettes were easier to use than unflavored e-cigarettes at wave 1 (n = 6,983) were included in the study. Multivariable logistic regressions were used to examine the associations between perceived ease of using flavored e-cigarettes (wave 1) and e-cigarette use outcomes including e-cigarette use susceptibility (wave 1) and e-cigarette initiation and past-30-day use (wave 2). Results Overall, 21.2% of the sample perceived flavored e-cigarettes easier to use than unflavored e-cigarettes; and 28.9% of the sample were susceptible to using e-cigarettes at wave 1, and 7.5% and 2.0% initiated e-cigarettes and used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days at wave 2, respectively. Among those who perceived flavored e-cigarettes easier to use, 41.0% were susceptible to using e-cigarettes at wave 1, and 10.6% and 3.4% initiated and used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days at wave 2, respectively. Perceiving flavored e-cigarettes as easier to use than unflavored e-cigarettes at wave 1 was positively associated with e-cigarette use susceptibility at wave 1 (AOR = 1.43, CI = 1.21, 1.69), and e-cigarette initiation (AOR = 1.32, CI = 1.12, 1.67) and past-30-day use (AOR = 1.25, CI = 1.10, 2.47) at wave 2. Conclusions Perceiving flavored e-cigarettes as easier to use than unflavored e-cigarettes may lead to e-cigarette use progression among youth never tobacco users. Determining the factors (including e-cigarette marketing and specific e-cigarette flavors) that lead to perceived ease of using flavored e-cigarettes would inform efforts to prevent and curb youth e-cigarette use.
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