Tripling use of electronic cigarettes among New Zealand adolescents between 2012 and 2014

J Adolesc Health. 2015 May;56(5):522-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.01.022.


Purpose: Use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) among adults has flourished in recent years. However, little is known about their use among adolescents. This article reports on data collected from a New Zealand national youth tobacco use survey in 2012 and 2014.

Methods: The Youth Insights Survey is a biennial self-complete survey of Year 10 students (predominately aged 14-15 years), with a sample size of 3,127 in 2012 and 2,919 in 2014. Ever-use of e-cigarettes was self-reported by participants in both years, and in 2014, e-cigarette ever-users also reported their reasons for first trying e-cigarettes.

Results: The rate of e-cigarette ever-use tripled from 7.0% in 2012 to 20.0% in 2014. After adjusting for sociodemographic variables, smoking status (including susceptibility), and other factors associated with tobacco smoking uptake, e-cigarette ever-use was associated with gender, smoking status, close friends' smoking behavior, and risky substance use. Among smokers, desire for a cigarette, quit intention, or past-year quit attempts did not predict e-cigarette ever-use. Irrespective of smoking status, curiosity was the most commonly cited reason for trying e-cigarettes.

Conclusions: In 2014, one in five 14- to 15-year-olds had used e-cigarettes. Our data suggest that for adolescent smokers, cessation was not the main reason for trying e-cigarettes. Instead, most adolescents (smokers and nonsmokers) tried e-cigarettes out of curiosity. Our findings signal a need to continue monitoring the uptake of e-cigarettes among adolescents, including both experimental and long-term use. Controlling access and exposure to e-cigarettes among this young age group is also required.

Keywords: Co-substance use; Electronic nicotine delivery system; Surveillance and monitoring.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / psychology*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students / psychology*