Key Findings on Electronic Cigarette Use Among Adults

A new study has come out from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on electronic cigarettes.  Whether you believe they are an alternative to traditional tobacco-leaf cigarettes or a smoking cessation tool, there is also some controversy surrounding the devices as to whether they are attracting non-smokers to an addictive habit.

The study used information from a survey conducted from more than 36,000 U.S. adults, and was gathered “as part of the National Health Interview Survey, an ongoing survey of a variety of health issues.”  Statistics have been gathered on youth for several years, but this survey is the first time adult usage has been analyzed.

figure1Young adults, or those in the 18-24 year old age group, had the highest usage in several categories.  The percentage of those in this category who had ever tried an e-cigarette at least once, came in at 21.6% with numbers of other groups declining with age.  The percentage of those in this same age group who were non-smokers, but tried an e-cigarette was at 9.7%, which would prompt people to believe the devices are a gateway for adults, as well as teens, to start using nicotine.  Of course it would make sense that this group would have higher numbers; they are into trends and fads, grew up in a digital age, and are more willing to take risks on a product that is marketed by the industry as safe by producing “harmless water vapor,” but has few health studies.

About “12.6% of adults had ever tried an e-cigarette even one time in their lifetimes,” and about “3.7% of adults currently use e-cigarettes every day or some days.”  In both ever tried and current use, men were more likely than women to use e-cigarettes.

Figure3What is surprising is the number of current cigarette smokers, former smokers and never smokers who are currently using e-cigarettes; 15.9% of current cigarette smokers are also currently using e-cigarettes so they are getting their nicotine two ways. Those who were former cigarette smokers of at least a year or more who no longer use tobacco, but use e-cigarettes instead came in at 22.0%.  Respondents who said they never smoked cigarettes, or 0.4%, are currently using e-cigarettes.  The number may not be high but it should be questioned as to why an adult, who was adamant about not smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, decided to begin using e-cigarettes.  It would also be interesting to see the age of the never smokers in this category.

The Florida Youth Tobacco Survey has been collecting electronic cigarette data since 2011, meaning that those who are now considered an adult at 18 could have started using e-cigarettes when they were 14.  Our Florida high school students have one of the lowest current smoking rates in the nation at 6.9% (current meaning they smoked at least once in the past 30 days), but it is a different story for electronic cigarettes.  The numbers have continued to climb upward, giving teens a 526.7% increase in electronic cigarette use since 2011.  While 6.0% reported having ever tried e-cigarettes in 2011, the 2015 number stands at 37.6% for high school students.  Current use, or use at least once in 30 days, shows an increase of 409.7% since 2011 with 15.8% of high school students reporting use.

The high numbers of electronic cigarette use for our teens means much higher numbers for adults in any future National Health Interview Surveys.  Education on e-cigarettes for both teens and adults is still the key as studies have yet not proven their safety, and no long term studies are available.  At the moment it seems like all we can do is “wait and see” what happens to those using the devices.

Click HERE for the National Health Interview Survey results.

This entry was posted in E-Cigarettes, Smoking, Tobacco market, Tobacco Prevention and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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