Ecigs roll back the clock on kid quitting, too

E-cigarettes have reversed the long-term trend of declining nicotine addiction among kids. Now Richard Miech and his colleagues at USC have used the Monitoring the Future survey data on tobacco use behavior among 8th to 12th graders to study the prevalence of failed quit attempts for cigarettes (from 1997 through 2020) and e-cigarettes (for 2020, the only year the quitting question was asked about e-cigarettes).

The figure above, taken from their paper, Failed Attempts to Quit Combustible Cigarettes and e-Cigarettes Among US Adolescents, shows supports their conclusion that

Among adolescents, reported prevalence of an unsuccessful cigarette quit attempt declined between 1997 and 2020. In 2020, the prevalence of unsuccessful quit attempts among adolescents who had used either e-cigarettes or cigarettes was higher than the prevalence of unsuccessful cigarette quit attempts in each of the previous 13 years… The contribution of e-cigarettes to unsuccessful nicotine quit attempts among adolescents is substantial and warrants consideration as the US formulates policies to regulate e-cigarettes.

Looking at the last bar in the graph from their paper (the blue bar in the graph above), which is for kids who use e-cigarettes or cigarettes or both (dual users) shows that the overall prevalence of use (15.1%) and failed quit attempts (5.7%) is almost identical to the pattern observed in 2004, before e-cigarettes came on the market. It also shows that most kids using cigarettes are also using e-cigarettes.

Interestingly, the fractions of ever cigarette smokers (14.50%; 95%CI 10.82%-19.17%) and ever e-cigarette users (11.62%; 95% CI 9.54%-14.09%) who made unsuccessful quit attempts in 2020 are not significantly different (p=0.235; my calculation). This suggests that e-cigarettes are not a pathway for kids to quit nicotine.

Rolling the clock back is great news for tobacco companies but bad for public health.

The full citation is Miech R, Leventhal AM, O’Malley PM, Johnston LD, Barrington-Trimis JL. Failed Attempts to Quit Combustible Cigarettes and e-Cigarettes Among US Adolescents. JAMA. 2022 Mar 22;327(12):1179-1181. doi: 10.1001/jama.2022.1692. PMID: 35315899; PMCID: PMC8941346. It is available here.

Published by Stanton Glantz

Stanton Glantz is a retired Professor of Medicine who served on the University of California San Francisco faculty for 45 years. He conducts research on tobacco and cannabis control and cardiovascular disease/

One thought on “Ecigs roll back the clock on kid quitting, too

  1. Thank you Professor Glantz for your important work in this field, and speaking up about the truth of this new tobacco industry trick. This just validates the risk to entice an entirely new generation. If the right model and statistic analysis show that vaping can easily triple smoking rates among our most vulnerable children. And leave them with a lifetime addiction that’s proven near impossible to quit.
    Which is why the attention should be on behaviour-influencing flavors, and making tobacco-reminiscent vapes prevalent to protect all youth!


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