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Associations between e-cigarette access and smoking and drinking behaviours in teenagers

Hughes, K, Bellis, MA, Hardcastle, KA, McHale, P, Bennett, A, Ireland, R and Pike, K (2015) Associations between e-cigarette access and smoking and drinking behaviours in teenagers. BMC PUBLIC HEALTH, 15. ISSN 1471-2458

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Background: Public health concerns regarding e-cigarettes and debate on appropriate regulatory responses are
focusing on the need to prevent child access to these devices. However, little is currently known about the
characteristics of those young people that are accessing e-cigarettes.
Methods: Using a cross-sectional survey of 14-17 year old school students in North West England (n = 16,193) we
examined associations between e-cigarette access and demographics, conventional smoking behaviours, alcohol
consumption, and methods of accessing cigarettes and alcohol. Access to e-cigarettes was identified through a
question asking students if they had ever tried or purchased e-cigarettes.
Results: One in five participants reported having accessed e-cigarettes (19.2%). Prevalence was highest among
smokers (rising to 75.8% in those smoking >5 per day), although 15.8% of teenagers that had accessed e-cigarettes
had never smoked conventional cigarettes (v.13.6% being ex-smokers). E-cigarette access was independently
associated with male gender, having parents/guardians that smoke and students’ alcohol use. Compared with
non-drinkers, teenagers that drank alcohol at least weekly and binge drank were more likely to have accessed
e-cigarettes (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.89, P < 0.001), with this association particularly strong among never-smokers
(AOR 4.59, P < 0.001). Among drinkers, e-cigarette access was related to: drinking to get drunk, alcohol-related violence,
consumption of spirits; self-purchase of alcohol from shops or supermarkets; and accessing alcohol by recruiting adult
proxy purchasers outside shops.
Conclusions: There is an urgent need for controls on the promotion and sale of e-cigarettes to children. Findings
suggest that e-cigarettes are being accessed by teenagers more for experimentation than smoking cessation. Those
most likely to access e-cigarettes may already be familiar with illicit methods of accessing age-restricted substances.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1117 Public Health And Health Services
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: Public Health Institute
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2015 11:11
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 14:28
DOI or Identification number: 10.1186/s12889-015-1618-4
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/943

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