According to a new study, the urge to try something new and the novelty factor of e-cigarettes motivates its usage in teenagers. “While e-cigarettes are frequently used as devices for smoking cessation in adults, we found most students in our survey (including 47.8 percent) of those who recently smoked cigarettes) were motivated by the cool/fun/something new” features of e-cigarettes,” said Dr. Michael Khoury.
The research involved 2367 students aged 14-15 years enrolled in grade 9 in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. Researchers from SickKids and Heart Niagara in Niagara Falls, Ontario, sought to understand the motivation, frequency and other factors for use of e-cigarettes by teens. Of the 2367 teens who responded to at least 1 question in the smoking section of the survey, nearly 70% (1599) had heard about e-cigarettes; almost a quarter of them (380) had learned about them from a display or a sign in a store. Over 10% (238) had used e-cigarettes.
E-cigarette use was more common among male respondents who were already using cigarettes and other tobacco products, and in those whose family or friends smoked. Smoking cessation did not appear to be a driver of e-cigarette use. Researchers found that the use of e-cigarettes was also associated with lower self-identified health level, greater stress level and a lower estimated household income, which suggests that e-cigarette use may have some key associations that may help to identify adolescents at risk.
Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, Deputy Editor, CMAJ, and a respirologist, highlighted that e-cigarette use was highest among the most vulnerable youth, as reflected by poor health, high stress or low socioeconomic status. He also expressed concern over the study’s confirmation that most teens were not substituting e-cigarettes for cigarettes; instead, the odds of e-cigarette use were 12-fold higher in youth who also smoked cigarettes (i.e., “dual users”). The study is published in Canadian Medical Association Journal.