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Do population trends in adolescent electronic cigarette use coincide with changes in prevalence of cigarette smoking?

Kristjansson, Alfgeir L.; Allegrante, John P.; Sigfusson, Jon; Sigfusdottir, Inga Dora

Adolescents who initiate electronic cigarette (EC) use without having ever used tobacco are more likely than those that have not initiated EC use to try cigarette smoking over time. However, whether rates of EC use coincide with cigarette smoking rates at the population level remains unknown. This study aimed to compare trends in ever, current, and daily use of EC and cigarette smoking among adolescents in Iceland from 2015 to 2018. We analyzed four waves of pooled cross-sectional population-based school survey data with students enrolled in the 8th, 9th and 10th grades in the national Icelandic school system (n = 42,440, boys = 50.1%). Response rates ranged between 83.3% and 86.0%. Findings for 8th, 9th, and 10th grade students, and the combined sample, revealed a consistent pattern: prevalence of cigarette smoking either remained unchanged or decreased minimally over the study period. In the combined sample rates of ever smoking remained between 9 and 10% during the entire study period, whereas the prevalence of daily cigarette smoking was around 1%. The use of EC increased 2- to 3-fold in all age groups. Ever use increased from 12% to roughly 30% in the combined group and daily use increased from about 2% to 6% during the same period. We conclude that the prevalence of adolescent cigarette smoking in Iceland remained mostly unchanged between the years 2015 and 2018, whereas EC use increased exponentially during the same period. The prevalence of EC use now far outweighs cigarette smoking in 8th-10th grade youth in Iceland.

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Health and Behavior Studies
Published Here
February 19, 2020

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KEYWORDS: Adolescents; Electronic cigarettes; Iceland; Population trends; Primary prevention