Youth E-Cig Use Increases Odds of Cigarette Use?


AMERICAN ADOLESCENTS who smoke e-cigarettes are more than four times as likely to try a cigarette … as those who have no prior tobacco use history, a new cohort study finds.

“Youth E-Cig Use Increases Odds of Cigarette Use,” US News

This is from a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, using data from a study between 2013 and 2016 of youths aged 12 to 15 years who had never used cigarettes, e-cigarettes or other tobacco products at the beginning of the time period.

Prior e-cigarette users had 4.09 times the odds of having ever smoked a cigarette compared with peers with no previous tobacco use.


That’s the stat I see cited most often, always incorrectly, regarding kids and vaping. The report doesn’t say 4 times more likely to start smoking cigarettes, it says 4 times more likely to have ever smoked a cigarette.

Sometimes it’s cited incorrectly (I suspect) intentionally in support of an agenda, and sometimes it’s cited incorrectly just because journalists don’t understand numbers.

Extrapolating their data, the researchers estimated that 820,414 youths had smoked a cigarette over the examined years, with nearly 180,000 of those having used e-cigarettes previously.

In other words, far more of the kids (> 70 percent) smoking cigarettes had never used e-cigarettes.

Another detail of the study never mentioned in the anti-vaping ads:

Because the PATH study data was observational, the researchers admitted their analysis is unable to “establish causal relations or rule out the possibility of residual confounding by underlying risk-taking propensities.”

They can’t say that vaping “causes” smoking. Vaping and smoking are things that kids may tend to do together because, among other reasons, some kids have a propensity for doing things they’re “not supposed to do.”

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