Background: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery-powered devices developed with the goal of mimicking the action of smoking, including nicotine delivery, without the toxic effects of tobacco smoke. Little is known about the uptake of e-cigarettes among young people.
Methods: A survey was conducted with a cluster sample of 20240 students enrolled at 176 nationally representative Polish high schools and universities between September 2010 and June 2011. We estimated national e-cigarette prevalence among various demographic groups by using population weights. Multiple logistic regression was used to evaluate which demographic factors were independent predictors of 2 outcomes: ever use of e-cigarettes and use in the previous 30 days.
Results: Among high school students, aged 15 to 19 years, 23.5% had ever used e-cigarettes and 8.2% had done so within the previous 30 days. Among those in universities, aged 20 to 24 years, 19.0% had ever used an e-cigarette and 5.9% had done so in the previous 30 days. In multivariate analyses that controlled for covariates, smoking cigarettes, male gender, living in an urban area, and having parents who smoke were associated with ever use of e-cigarettes. Overall, 3.2% of never smoking students reported ever use of e-cigarettes.
Conclusions: About one-fifth of Polish youth have tried e-cigarettes; most of them had previously smoked cigarettes. It is unclear whether e-cigarettes are just a novelty that young people try only once or whether they have potential to compete in the marketplace with conventional cigarettes.