In what settings and social contexts do young adults vape or smoke cannabis? Findings from a web-based diary pilot study

Carolyn E. Sartor, Stephanie S. O'Malley, Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, Dawn W. Foster

Publication Date: 09/01/2023



Vaping is an increasingly common mode of cannabis use among young adults. Despite potential to inform targeted prevention, settings and social contexts where young adults vape and/or smoke cannabis have rarely been investigated. We addressed this question in a diverse young adult sample.


Data were collected weekly in a web-based daily diary format for six weeks. The analytic sample consisted of the 108 participants (of the 119 enrolled) who used cannabis during the assessment period (mean age = 22.06; 23.78% college students; 65.74% female; 5.56% Asian, 22.22% Black, 16.67% Latinx, 2.78% Multi-racial or Other and 52.77% White). Cannabis use was queried separately for vaping and smoking; respondents reported all settings (14 options) and social contexts (7 options) where they used.


For both vaping and smoking cannabis, the most common settings were home (vaping: 56.97%, smoking: 68.72% [significantly lower for vaping]), friend’s home (vaping: 22.49%, smoking: 21.49%), and car (vaping: 18.80%, smoking: 12.99%). The most common social contexts were with friends (vaping: 55.96%, smoking: 50.61%), with significant other (vaping: 25.19%, smoking: 28.53%), and alone (vaping: 25.92%, smoking: 22.62%). Compared to non-students, college students reported vaping on a significantly higher proportion (27.88% vs. 16.50%) of cannabis use days.


Very similar patterns in settings and social contexts were observed for vaping as smoking and in prevalence of vaping and smoking cannabis across demographic groups. The few notable exceptions have implications for vaping related public health measures: targeting reducing vaping outside the home, particularly in cars, and implementing prevention programming on college campuses.


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