Teen Nicotine Use: More Than Just Cigarettes

Teen nicotine use included cigarettes, hookah, cigars, electronic cigarettes and more

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) These days, tobacco and nicotine can take many forms. And many teens may be exploring these products.

A recent study found that youth nicotine product use took many forms. Cigarettes were just one of the products that young people used. Other commonly used products were cigars, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and hookah.

For this study, Youn Ok Lee, PhD, led a team of researchers from the Public Health Research Division of RTI International in Research Triangle Park, NC.

These researchers wrote that, "Noncigarette tobacco products are increasingly popular among youth, especially youth who smoke cigarettes."

Dr. Lee and team continued to warn that, "Youth multiple product use is associated with increased nicotine dependence, raising concerns about the additive harms of noncigarette tobacco products."

The 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey looked at more than 24,000 US middle and high school students. The good news? Nearly 85 percent of these students said they did not use any nicotine products. However, that left nearly 15 percent who said they currently used at least one.

Of the users, 19 percent used cigarettes exclusively. Another 27 percent used a noncigarette product exclusively. In other words, just under half of nicotine product users were using a single product.

The other half was using more than one product. Just about 25 percent used two products, and one of those products was often cigarettes. Nearly 30 percent of the nicotine users used more than three products. This is called polytobacco use.

Less than 2 percent of 9- to 13-year-olds were polytobacco users — compared to 6 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds and 10 percent of those 18 or older.

Polytobacco use was also tied to being male, use of flavored products, nicotine dependence (as measured by how early tobacco was used upon waking up) and the belief that tobacco use was prevalent among peers.

Dr. Lee and team wrote that use of multiple tobacco products "should be of concern to the health community because of the potential additive harms posed by increased use of these products and the potential for increased exposure to nicotine and nicotine addiction."

They called for more research on the effects of polytobacco use.

This study was published online Feb. 2 in the journal Pediatrics.

Tobacco Free Florida funded this research. Dr. Lee and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
January 30, 2015
Last Updated:
February 2, 2015