Who, me? Optimism bias about US teenagers' ability to quit vaping.
Strombotne K., Sindelar J., Buckell J.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The vaping rate among US teenagers has doubled in the last 2 years, which may be explained in part by teenagers' optimism that they would have relatively little trouble in quitting. The aim of this study was to estimate the extent to which teenagers exhibited optimism bias, what characteristics are associated with optimism bias, and which factors are related to respondents' perceptions of how hard it would be for them to quit. DESIGN: a national, online, cross-sectional survey in 2018 using quota sampling. SETTING: USA PARTICIPANTS: Respondents were n=1,610 teenagers aged 14-18 who had ever tried or heard of JUULs or e-cigarettes generally. MEASUREMENTS: Optimism bias was defined as respondents' perceptions of their own difficulty quitting vaping compared with that of an average US person of their own age. Linear regression was used to examine associations between respondents' characteristics with both optimism bias and their own perceived difficulty quitting vaping. FINDINGS: Over 60% of teenagers were optimistically biased about their ability to quit vaping. Smoking (b=-0.69, p<0.01) and JUULing (b=-0.62, p<0.01) were negatively associated with optimism bias but reduced-price school lunch eligibility (0.24, p=0.02) and school satisfaction were positively associated (b=0.05, p=0.02). Smoking (b=0.84, p<0.01) was associated with an increased perception of the difficulty of quitting. That association was negative for Black respondents (b=-0.81, p=0.01) and those eligible for reduced-priced lunches (b=-0.48, p=0.01), and positive for Hispanic respondents (b=0.47, p=.04). CONCLUSIONS: On average, US teenagers appear to show optimism bias about their ability to quit vaping, which decreases with smoking and vaping and increases with eligibility for reduced-price school lunches.