Potential Consequences of E-Cigarette Use: Is Youth Health Going Up in Smoke
Center for Naval Analyses Arlington United States
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The recent spike in popularity of electronic cigarettes e-cigarettes among Americas adolescents may have significant health consequences. Such consequences would affect the Department of Defenses recruitable population, which is predominantly composed of adolescents and young adults. Using data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey NYTS, we examine trends over time in the use of traditional tobacco and e-cigarettes. We also use NYTS data during the 2002-2006 period to predict the use of traditional cigarettes and chewing tobacco chew among NYTS respondents participating in the 2011-2014 survey waves. By comparing the accuracy of these predictions across e-cigarette users and nonusers, we shed light on the relationship between e-cigarette and traditional tobacco use. Specifically, we demonstrate that NYTS participants in the 2011-2014 waves who report having ever tried e-cigarettes are far more prone to using cigarettes andor chew than the data from the 2002- 2006 period predict. We also show that these youth smoke conventional cigarettes more frequently and intensely than expected. In stark contrast, 2011-2014 NYTS respondents who have not tried e-cigarettes are less prone to tobacco use than predicted, and they smoke less oftenless intensely. One interpretation of these results is that e-cigarettes could be a gateway drug that will entice more youth to eventually smoke or chewdiminishing the overall health of the recruitable population.