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.