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Hot Topics: Flavored Vapes Hook Teens

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Pediatrics, Substance Use Disorders

Flavored E-cigarette Use and Progression of Vaping in Adolescents

Leventhal, A. M., Goldenson, N. I., Cho, J., Kirkpatrick, M. G., McConnell, R. S., Stone, M. D., . . . Barrington-Trimis, J. L. (2019). Flavored E-cigarette use and progression of vaping in adolescents. Pediatrics. https://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-0789

OBJECTIVES: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are available in nontraditional flavors (eg, fruit and candy) that are banned in combustible cigarettes in the United States. Whether adolescent use of e-cigarettes in nontraditional flavors prospectively predicts continuation of vaping and progression to more frequent vaping is unknown.

METHODS: High school students in Los Angeles, California, completed 5 semiannual surveys (2014–2017 [10th grade to 12th grade]). Among past-6-month e-cigarette users at survey waves 1 to 4 (N = 478), e-cigarette flavor (or flavors) used was coded into 2 mutually exclusive categories at each wave (use of ≥1 nontraditional flavors [fruit, candy, sweet or dessert, buttery, blends or combinations, and other] versus exclusive use of tobacco, menthol or mint, or flavorless). Flavor used during waves 1 to 4 was modeled as a time-varying, time-lagged regressor of vaping status and frequency outcomes 6 months later at waves 2 to 5.

RESULTS: Across waves 1 to 4, there were 739 (93.8%) observations of nontraditional-flavor use and 49 (6.2%) observations of exclusive use of tobacco, mint or menthol, or flavorless e-cigarettes. Use of e-cigarettes in nontraditional flavors (versus only tobacco, mint or menthol, or flavorless) was positively associated with vaping continuation (64.3% vs 42.9%; adjusted odds ratio = 3.76 [95% confidence interval 1.20 to 10.31]) and past-30-day number of puffs per nicotine vaping episode (mean: 3.1 [SD 5.5] vs 1.5 [SD 3.8]; adjusted rate ratio = 2.41 [95% confidence interval 1.08 to 5.92]) 6 months later. Flavor used was not associated with the subsequent number of past-30-day vaping days or episodes per day.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents who vaped e-cigarettes in nontraditional flavors, compared with those who exclusively vaped tobacco-flavored, mint- or menthol-flavored, or flavorless e-cigarettes, were more likely to continue vaping and take more puffs per vaping occasion 6 months later.