Friday, July 31, 2015

Teen Use of Electronic Cigarettes May Be a Function of How They Feel About These Products

By: Lewis First, MD, MS; Editor-in-Chief

      The increasing presence of electronic cigarettes over the past few years has not escaped our attention including an uptick on manuscripts to Pediatrics regarding adolescent usage of these devices.  But what makes a teen want to try them—and how does using an e-cigarette influence their desire to start or stop smoking regular tobacco cigarettes? 
       Barrington et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-0639) have smoked out the answers to these questions in a study being released this week.  The authors surveyed more than 2000 11th and 12 graders in southern California and found that 24.0% had used an e-cigarette at some point in time and a smaller percentage (18.7%) had smoked a tobacco cigarette and noted a correlation between the two groups.  Of the teens who had used an e-cigarette however in the past 30 days, 40.5% had not used a combustible cigarette. So what drives their desire to use either of these products?   
     The authors look at a variety of psychosocial factors including whether the products are used at home, whether their friends use them, and even whether they view them as harmful or not from a health standpoint.  The take-away is that there are factors identified in this study that are strongly associated with smoking practices in teens—and learning what they are may make for a more effective approach to helping teens quit e-cigarette and conventional cigarette smoking—as well as whether use of one might lead to use of the other.
      The data in this study is guaranteed to light up your conversation with teens about smoking in ways that may make the effectiveness of what you talk about even more effective.  Are you finding some strategies more effective than others in getting teens to not use e-cigarettes, let alone tobacco products?  Are you finding that the psychosocial factors identified in this study are influencing your patients as strongly as they seem to be in the teen population studied?  Share with us your thoughts and solutions to this problem by responding to this blog or sending us an e-letter or posting your thoughts on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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