e-cigarette use young adults

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine identifies the trends in electronic cigarette use among adults.

The electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) was invented in 2003 and entered the U.S. market in 2007; today, e-cigarette use has skyrocketed worldwide. A new study from the American Cancer Society looked into the trend of electronic cigarette use among U.S. adults.

Trends in e-cigarette use by age were assessed based on data collected between 2014 and 2018. The prevalence of e-cigarette use was determined using National Health Interview Surveys.

Young adult exposure to nicotine occurs with electronic cigarette use

The study found the largest increase in electronic cigarette use among young adult never smokers, which tripled from 1.3% in 2014 to 3.3% in 2018. Although the two percent difference may seem small, there has been an overall national growth in the number of people who never smoked traditional cigarettes who now smoke e-cigarettes. In 2014, the number of never-smoker young adult users was 0.49 million and in 2018 increased to 1.35 million. The second highest usage numbers were observed in people who had previously quit smoking (1-8 years ago). For middle-aged and older adults there was a general decline in e-cigarette usage trends, with 40% and 70% drops, respectively.

These trends highlighted by this study suggest that primary nicotine initiation for young adults occurs with electronic cigarettes. Secondly, the re-use, or continuation, of e-cigarettes among those who had previously quit may be due to required nicotine maintenance.

The long-term effects of electronic-cigarette use are mostly unknown. Brands such as JUUL make battery-powered e-cigarettes that heat nicotine-containing liquids to produce an inhaled aerosol.

Nicotine is harmful to both adolescent and adult brains and lungs. Nicotine usage has also been deemed to be indicative of risk for future addiction to other drugs. E-cigarettes expose users to dangerous substances that can be detrimental to human health. Further research is required to determine the consequences of long-term e-cigarette use, as well as a need for public health action addressing the rise in nicotine use by young adults.

Written by Melody Sayrany


  1. Brueck, H. (2019, November 15). The wild history of vaping, from a 1927 ‘electric vaporizer’ to today’s mysterious lung injury crisis. Insider. https://www.insider.com/history-of-vaping-who invented-e-cigs-2019-10.
  • Bandi, P., Cahn, Z., Sauer, A. G., Douglas, C. E., Drope, J., Jemal, A., & Fedewa, S. A. (2020). Trends in E-Cigarette Use by Age Group and Combustible Cigarette Smoking Histories, U.S. Adults, 2014–2018. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2020.07.026
  • ACSNews. New study finds largest population increase among US adult electronic cigarette users is in younger adults that have never smoked combustible cigarettes. EurekAlert! https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/acs-sfl100420.php.
  • Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults. (2020, September 29). https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html.

Image by Lindsay Fox from Pixabay 

Facebook Comments