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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Prevalence of disposable pod use and consumer preference for e-cigarette product characteristics among vape shop customers in Southern California: a cross-sectional study.



In February 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a guidance restricting the sales and distribution of cartridge-based e-cigarettes with flavours other than tobacco and menthol. Disposable devices were exempt from this guidance. This study examined the prevalence of disposable pod use and flavour preference compared with refillable pod and other e-cigarette users among vape shop customers.


Cross-sectional study.


In July 2019-March 2020, trained data collectors visited 44 vape shops in California with permission to recruit customers from shop owners.


Intercept interviews with 276 customers were conducted.

Outcomes and procedures

Customers were grouped based on self-reported device type used most often (disposable pod, refillable pod and other e-cigarettes). Groups were compared on self-reported demographics, flavours preferred, daily e-cigarette use, preferred nicotine concentration levels and cigarette use.


Of the 276 customers surveyed, 11.2% used disposable pods in the past 30 days. Among disposable pod users, fruit/candy (80.7%), mint (77.4%) and menthol (67.7%) were common preferred flavours, while tobacco flavours were less commonly preferred (19.4%). When compared with refillable pod and other non-pod e-cigarette device users, disposable pod users were younger, used higher nicotine concentration levels, were more likely to prefer mint and menthol flavours and use e-cigarettes as their first product, while less likely to ever use cigarettes and use e-cigarettes daily.


Despite using higher nicotine levels and preferred menthol/mint flavours more often than users of other devices, disposable pod users reported lower prevalence of lifetime smoking and daily vaping and were younger. Given the current findings, regulations addressing non-tobacco flavours and nicotine concentration in disposable pod devices merit consideration in efforts to reduce vaping in younger adult never smokers.

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