Second generation electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS; also known as e-cigarettes, vaporizers or vape pens) are designed for a customized nicotine delivery experience and have less resemblance to regular cigarettes than first generation “cigalikes.” The present study examined whether they generalize as a conditioned cue and evoke smoking urges or behavior in persons exposed to their use.


Data were analyzed in N = 108 young adult smokers (≥5 cigarettes per week) randomized to either a traditional combustible cigarette smoking cue or a second generation ENDS vaping cue in a controlled laboratory setting. Cigarette and e-cigarette urge and desire were assessed pre- and post-cue exposure. Smoking behavior was also explored in a subsample undergoing a smoking latency phase after cue exposure (N = 26).


The ENDS vape pen cue evoked both urge and desire for a regular cigarette to a similar extent as that produced by the combustible cigarette cue. Both cues produced similar time to initiate smoking during the smoking latency phase. The ENDS vape pen cue elicited smoking urge and desire regardless of ENDS use history, that is, across ENDS naїve, lifetime or current users. Inclusion of past ENDS or cigarette use as covariates did not significantly alter the results.


These findings demonstrate that observation of vape pen ENDS use generalizes as a conditioned cue to produce smoking urge, desire, and behavior in young adult smokers. As the popularity of these devices may eventually overtake those of first generation ENDS cigalikes, exposure effects will be of increasing importance.


This study shows that passive exposure to a second generation ENDS vape pen cue evoked smoking urge, desire, and behavior across a range of daily and non-daily young adult smokers. Smoking urge and desire increases after vape pen exposure were similar to those produced by exposure to a first generation ENDS cigalike and a combustible cigarette, a known potent cue. Given the increasing popularity of ENDS tank system products, passive exposures to these devices will no doubt increase, and may contribute to tobacco use in young adult smokers.

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