This study assessed whether initiating e-cigarette use increases the uptake of cigarette smoking in US adolescents compared with behavioural and synthetic controls.

Data come from 78 265 adolescents in the National Youth Tobacco Survey (2014–2017) of whom 38 630 provided information about the first tobacco product they had used in 2014/15. Ever, past 30 day and established (30 day use and 100+ lifetime cigarettes) cigarette smoking was compared in adolescents who first used an e-cigarette (exposure group), a non-cigarette combustible (CT) or other non-combustible tobacco (NT) product (behavioural controls), and propensity score matched adolescents without initial e-cigarette use (synthetic controls).

Relative to behavioural controls, adolescents who tried e-cigarettes first were less likely to have ever smoked cigarettes (26% vs CT (42.4%; OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.57), or NT initiators (52.7%; OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.26 to 0.39)), to be past 30 day (6% vs CT (11.9%; OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.62), or NT initiators (20.0%; OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.35)) or be established cigarette smokers (0.7% vs CT (3.9%; OR 0.17, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.30), or NT initiators (8.4%; OR 0.08, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.13)). E-cigarette initiators were also less likely than synthetic controls (without initial e-cigarette use) to have ever smoked cigarettes (OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.62 to 0.93), be past 30 day (OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.55 to 0.91) or be established cigarette smokers (OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.51).

Less than 1% of US adolescents who use e-cigarettes first were established cigarette smokers. They were less likely to be smokers than adolescents who tried other combustible or non-combustible tobacco products first and propensity score matched adolescents without initial e-cigarette use.

Read full paper here.

Lion Shahab, Emma Beard, Jamie Brown – Tobacco Control – March 17, 2020.

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