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E-cigarette use amongst US youths climbs, with pandemic years showing slight decline

An article published in JAMA Network Open provides the present prevalence of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) usage amongst youths in the US.

Study: Trends in Current Electronic Cigarette Use Amongst Youths by Age, Sex, and Race and Ethnicity. Image Credit: Dmytro Tyshchenko / Shutterstock


E-cigarettes, also often known as vapes, were originally invented by a Chinese pharmacist in 2003 and are battery-operated nicotine-delivery devices that produce aerosols by heating a liquid mainly containing nicotine or other tobacco products. Users inhale the aerosol to experience a physical sensation and flavor just like that of inhaled tobacco smoke.

E-cigarettes were initially introduced out there as an alternative choice to conventional flamable cigarettes which have more harmful health effects. The aim was to assist adult smokers quit their smoking habits. Nevertheless, several scientific studies have identified the adversarial health effects of e-cigarettes amongst users, especially adolescents, young adults, pregnant women, and non-smokers.

In the US, e-cigarettes are essentially the most commonly used tobacco products amongst youths. There’s a growing concern that habits of e-cigarette use can potentially trigger addiction to more harmful products, equivalent to conventional cigarettes, that are related to premature morbidity and mortality.

On this study, scientists have evaluated the present trends in e-cigarette use amongst US youths stratified by key sociodemographic characteristics.     

Study design

The scientists used data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) over a period of ten years (2013 – 2022). NYTS is an annual, repeated cross-sectional survey of US middle- and high-school students. In the present study, a complete of 186,555 youths with complete information on e-cigarette use, age, sex, race, and ethnicity were included within the evaluation.

The study evaluation included self-reported age, sex, race, and ethnicity as sociodemographic characteristics. Current e-cigarette use was defined as past 30-day use. The scientists calculated overall in addition to sociodemographic characteristics, stratified the prevalence of e-cigarette use, and assessed the changes in prevalence over time (2013 – 2022).

Necessary observations

In response to the study estimates, the general prevalence of e-cigarette use was 3.1% in 2013, which increased to twenty.1% in 2019. Throughout the period of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the prevalence was 7.5% and 9.4% in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

A consistently higher prevalence was observed amongst older youths in comparison with that amongst younger youths. The very best prevalence (30%) amongst older youths was observed in 2019, which remained stable between 2021 and 2022.

Males showed a rather higher prevalence of e-cigarette use than females until 2015. In 2019, the prevalence was almost the identical between women and men. Throughout the pandemic years, females showed a rather higher prevalence than males.

Hispanic, non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic multiracial youths showed a better prevalence of e-cigarette use between 2013 and 2020 in comparison with non-Hispanic Black youths. Specifically, the prevalence was higher amongst Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites in 2019 in comparison with that amongst non-Hispanic Black youths. Throughout the pandemic years, the prevalence increased amongst Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black youths.  

Study significance

The study finds a big increase within the prevalence of e-cigarette use amongst US youths between 2013 and 2019. Although a discount in use has been observed throughout the pandemic years, the prevalence stays at a concerning level.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions, the scientists couldn’t examine the trends in e-cigarette use between 2020 and 2021. That is one in every of the constraints of the study. One other limitation is the inclusion of self-reported information on e-cigarette use and sociodemographic characteristics, which could potentially suffer from recall bias.

Overall, the study provides temporal e-cigarette use trends by age, sex, race, and ethnicity and identifies high-use subgroups that require tobacco prevention support systems. As mentioned by the scientists, future studies estimating the prevalence of e-cigarette use should consider additional measures, equivalent to frequency of use and alternative of flavoring agents, for a more comprehensive understanding.

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