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Vogel EA, Cho J, McConnell RS, Barrington-Trimis JL, Leventhal AM. Prevalence of Electronic Cigarette Dependence Among Youth and Its Association With Future Use. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(2):e1921513. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.21513
What are the prevalence, symptom presentation, and future vaping patterns associated with youth electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) dependence?
In this cohort study of 444 youths aged 16 to 18 years with past-year e-cigarette use, 11.7% of youth reported experiencing at least 1 e-cigarette dependence symptom. While less common and severe than combustible cigarette dependence, e-cigarette dependence had a similar symptom profile and was positively associated with vaping continuation, frequency, and intensity 6 months later.
These findings suggest that e-cigarette dependence among youth may be an expression of tobacco use disorder that is associated with use escalation.
Understanding the prevalence and symptoms of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) dependence and its association with future e-cigarette use among youth may help to guide pediatric clinical services and health policy.
To examine the cross-sectional prevalence and symptom presentation of e-cigarette dependence and to determine whether e-cigarette dependence is associated with subsequent e-cigarette use patterns 6 months later among youth with baseline past-year e-cigarette use.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This prospective cohort study used baseline and 6-month follow-up surveys among students in the 12th grade during the 2016 to 2017 school year who reported any past-year e-cigarette use. Surveys were conducted on site in 10 high schools in Los Angeles, California. Data were analyzed from March 2019 to December 2019.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Self-reported checklist of 10 tobacco product dependence symptoms reflecting loss of control over use, craving or urge, or withdrawal symptoms while abstinent, completed at baseline and administered separately for e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes. Reporting 1 or more symptoms indicated a positive screen for dependence. Vaping continuation, defined as any past 6-month vaping, and past 30-day nicotine vaping days (range, 0-30), sessions per vaping day (range, 0-20), and puffs per session (range, 0-20) at 6-month follow-up were assessed.
Among 3168 twelfth-grade students who completed the baseline survey, 444 youths (mean [SD] age, 17.48 [0.39] years; 217 [48.9%] female) reported past-year e-cigarette use. Among these, 52 youths (11.7%) reported at least 1 e-cigarette dependence symptom. Among youth who reported past-year dual e-cigarette and combustible cigarette use, combustible cigarette dependence, reported by 43 youths (29.7%), was more prevalent than e-cigarette dependence, which was reported by 24 youths (16.4%). The most common symptoms, craving, urge, and need to use, and least common symptoms, abstinence-related concentration and emotional problems, were similar in both combustible and e-cigarette dependence. The prevalence of e-cigarette dependence was higher among youth who reported vaping in the past month than among those who did not (41 youths [17.6%] vs 11 youths [5.2%]; P < .001) and among youth who used e-cigarettes with nicotine than among those who used e-cigarettes without nicotine (42 youths [15.2%] vs 10 youths [6.0%]; P = .004). After adjusting for baseline vaping and e-cigarette dependence risk propensity scores, baseline e-cigarette dependence symptom status was associated with vaping continuation (adjusted odds ratio, 2.30 [95% CI, 1.07-4.94]; P = .02) and past 30-day number of nicotine vaping days (adjusted rate ratio, 2.17 [95% CI, 1.44-3.28]; P < .001), vaping sessions per day (adjusted rate ratio, 2.41 [95% CI, 1.52-3.83]; P < .001), and puffs per session (adjusted rate ratio, 1.70 [95% CI, 1.09-2.66]; P = .02) at 6-month follow-up.
Conclusions and Relevance
These findings suggest that e-cigarette dependence may be an expression of tobacco use disorder associated with future use persistence and escalation among youth. Electronic cigarette dependence may be a behavioral health consequence of adolescent vaping that warrants consideration in pediatric patient care and public health policy.
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