Background: Although higher educational attainment lowers high-risk behaviors such as substance use, according to the Minorities’ Diminished Returns theory, the effect of educational attainment may be smaller for Blacks than Whites.

Aims: To explore the racial differences in the link between educational attainment and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).

Methods: We used the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) data. This national survey was conducted in 2017 and included 2,277 American adults composed of 1,868 White and 409 Black individuals. Educational attainment was the independent variable. E-cigarette use (lifetime) was the dependent variables. Age and gender were the covariates. Race was the effect modifier.

Results: In the overall sample, a higher level of education attainment was linked to lower odds of e-cigarette use (OR = 0.76, 95% CI =0.61-0.95). Race showed a significant interaction with educational attainment on the outcome (OR = 1.63, 95% CI =1.04-2.56), suggesting a weaker negative association between high educational attainment and e-cigarette use for Blacks than Whites. In race-stratified logistic regression models, high educational attainment was inversely associated with risk of e-cigarette use for Whites but not Blacks.

Conclusion: Educational attainment shows a stronger effect on e-cigarette use in White than Black Americans.


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