Objectives: The recent growth in the market for electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has led to concerns over their use by young people. It is therefore important to examine trends in the perception and use of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes in this group. Study design: Two-wave cross-sectional survey design. Methods: Young people aged 11-18 in Great Britain were surveyed online by YouGov in 2013 and 2014. Use of e-cigarettes, together with perceived health harms and intention to use were assessed and compared in relation to cigarette smoking history, age and gender. Results: Ever-use of e-cigarettes increased significantly from 4.6% (95% CI 3.8-5.7) in 2013 to 8.2% (95% CI 7.0-9.6) in 2014. Monthly or more use of e-cigarettes increased from 0.9% (95% CI 0.5-1.5) to 1.7 (1.2-2.4), but remained rare in never-smokers at under 0.2%. The proportion of young people who perceived e-cigarettes to be less harmful to users than cigarettes fell from 73.4% (95% CI 71.0-75.8) to 66.9% (95% CI 64.5-69.2), while the proportion who considered e-cigarettes to cause similar levels of harm increased from 11.8% (95% CI 10.0-13.5) to 18.2% (95% CI 16.3-20.1). Of the 8.2% of e-cigarette ever-users in 2014, 69.8% (95% CI 62.2%-77.3%) had smoked a cigarette prior to using an e-cigarette, while 8.2% (95% CI 4.1%-12.2%) first smoked a cigarette after e-cigarette use. Conclusions: A growing proportion of young people in Great Britain believe e-cigarettes are as harmful as smoking tobacco. Use of e-cigarettes by young people is increasing, but is largely confined to those who smoke.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Brian Eastwood is employed full time at Public Health England (PHE) and has received funding from PHE to support his PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, King's College London. Deborah Arnott and Hazel Cheeseman are employed full time at ASH, which receives funding from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and the UK Department of Health. ASH receives no funding from commercial organisations. Martin Dockrell, John Britton, Ann McNeill and Martin Jarvis have no interests to declare.
- Great Britain
- Young people