Student Blog | University Students’ Epidemic

  • Ghia Al Rawas
  • May 10, 2024

Over the past recent years, the excessive use of e-cigarettes among university students globally, and specifically in the MENA region, has become among the most alarming public health issues. In December 2018, the US Surgeon General referred to the utilization of e-cigarettes among youths as an “epidemic”, calling for an immediate action to be taken to mitigate its use [1].


Overview on E-cigarettes’ Use Among University Students in MENA Region:

E-cigarettes, also known as vape pens, are electronic devices that use a battery to heat up a liquid into an aerosol. The e-cigarette’s unique e-liquid composition includes various substances such as nicotine, carcinogens, flavorings and other health harming agents [2]. Baljoon et al. have conducted a research study to examine the prevalence of e-cigarettes use among Umm Al-Qura university students in Saudi Arabia. The results of the study have revealed that 31.8% of the sample of medical students confirmed their excessive use of e-cigarette on a regular basis. The study concludes that the prevalence is reasonably high, which in turn necessitates an urgent public health intervention to be implemented [3]. Additionally, Nakkash et al. have conducted a study to examine the prevalence of e-cigarettes use among school and university students, aging 17-23 years, in Lebanon. The results have revealed that 14.5% of the sample reported to be daily users of e-cigarettes [4]. Hence, all these prior mentioned studies pose an alarming threat on the students, their families and the society as a whole.


Factors of E-cigarette Use in MENA Region:

There are various factors that have been associated with the upsurge of this “epidemic” among university students, where these factors play a role on one’s interpersonal, intrapersonal and community level.

Abbasi et al. conducted a study about the knowledge and the use of e-cigarettes among university students in United Arab Emirates. The study’s results concluded that 64.8% of the sample used e-cigarettes because of peer influence, 67.1% due to social media’s influential role in advertisements, 19.6% for its availability in several flavors, and 15% perceived it less destructive than the traditional cigarettes [5]. A different study was conducted by Kurdi et al., on the prevalence, perception and attitudes of university students in Qatar towards the use of e-cigarettes, whereby the results were in line with Abbasi et al. that peer influence, availability of e-cigarettes in different flavors, and students’ perceptions about it being less harmful than traditional cigarettes were the main determinants of this public health issue [6].


Public Health Interventions that Should be Implemented in MENA region:

The excessive use of e-cigarettes among university students in the MENA region is a public health concern that requires various interventions to be taken and implemented effectively and successfully. In reference to the socio-ecological model, the intervention should take a holistic approach to be a successful and an efficient one. In spite of the latter, this intervention should consider the different levels of the socio-ecological model; interpersonal, intrapersonal, organizational/institutional level, community level and lastly on the public policy level [7].



  1. Z. Farzal, M. Perry, W. Yarbrough, & A. Kimple. (2019, August). “The Adolescent Vaping Epidemic in the United States-How It Happened and Where We Go from Here.” Research Gate [online]. vol. 145, issue 10. Available:
  2. M. B. Drummond, & D. Upson. (2014, February). “Electronic Cigarettes. Potential Harms and Benefits.” National Library of Medicine [online]. vol. 11, issue 2, pp. 236-242. Available:
  3. T. Baljoon, A. Bokhari, A. Alshanberi, S. Alarif, A. Madani, H. Hafiz et al., Altayyar. (2021, September). “The Prevalence of E-cigarette Uses Among Medical Students at Umm Al-Qura Univeristy: A Cross Sectional Study 2020.” Research Gate [online]. vol. 10, issue 9. Available:
  4. R. Nakkash, M. Tleis, T. Asfar & W. Maziak. (2020, September). “E-cigarette use among youth in Lebanon: Findings from Waterpipe Dependence in Lebanese Youth ‘WDLY’.” European Journal of Public Health [online]. vol. 30, issue 5. Available:
  5. Y. Abbasi, M. V. Hout, M. Faragalla, & L. Itani. (2022, June). “Knowledge and Use of Electronic Cigarettes in Young Adults in the United Arab Emirates, Particularly during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public health [online]. vol. 19, issue 13. Available:
  6. R. Kurdi, G. F. Al-Jayyousi, M.Yaseen, A. Ali, N. Mosleh, & H. F. Abdul Rahim. (2021, August). “Prevalence, risk factors, harm perception, and attitudes toward e-cigarette use among university students in Qatar: A cross-sectional study.” Frontiers [online]. vol. 9. Available:
  7. G. Han & H. Son. (2022, July). “A Systematic Review of Socio-ecological Factors Influencing Current E-cigarette Use Among Adolescents and Young Adults.” National Library of Medicine [online]. vol. 135. Available:

South of Global Health

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the author's, and do not reflect the views of the Global Health Institute or the American University of Beirut.


إخلاء المسؤولية: الآراء الواردة في هذا المقال هي آراء المؤلف ولا تعكس آراء معهد الصحة العالمي أو الجامعة الأمريكية في بيروت


South of Global Health is a blog of the Global Health Institute at the American University of Beirut which tackles the Global South’s most pressing health issues across multiple intersectional themes. The blog intends to serve as an outlet for health-related issues affecting and originating from the most vulnerable regions of the developing world.


South of Global Health has an open and ongoing Call for Blog Entries. It accepts pieces between 500 and 1000 words, and adopts footnotes in APA as its referencing style. Kindly submit all entries or queries to the Editor at or with the subject “South of Global Health Blog Entry”.