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Vaping characteristics that influence cigarette use


Vaping has been identified as a gateway for teenagers to smoke combustible cigarettes. A new study looks at the characteristics that might create that gateway.

The data are in, and now it’s a proven fact that many teenagers who engage in vaping also smoke combustible cigarettes. There has been little information, however, on whether certain types of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or specific e-cigarette characteristics have an impact on future combustible cigarette use. A new study in Pediatrics offers some illumination.1

Investigators used data from an online survey of participants in the Southern California Children’s Health Study from 2015 to 2016, which was the baseline, and 2016 to 2017, the follow-up. They looked at the link between 3 nonmutally exclusive characteristics on e-cigarettes most frequently used and the number of combustible cigarettes smoked in the 30 days prior to the follow-up survey. Characteristics included the device type (vape pen and/or modifiable e-cigarette), use of nicotine in electronic liquid, and use for dripping, which means directly dripping e-liquid onto the device.

When compared with never e-cigarette users, those who had past-30-day e-cigarette use showed a greater frequency of past-30-day combustible cigarettes. Among participants who had past-30-day e-cigarette use at baseline, those who used modifiable e-cigarettes instead of vape pens smoked more than 6 times as many combustible cigarettes at follow-up, after adjusting for number of days of e-cigarette use, baseline frequency of cigarette use, and sociodemographic characteristics. Use of nicotine e-liquid and dripping were not associated with frequency of cigarette smoking, after adjusting for device type.

Because device type appears to be associated with increased use of combustible cigarettes, regulating the device type could be an important strategy to reduce combustible cigarette use among teenagers who vape, the study concludes. 


1. Barrington-Trimis JL, Yang Z, Schiff S, et al. E-cigarette product characteristics and subsequent frequency of cigarette smoking. Pediatrics. April 1, 2020. Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-1652

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