Background: The objectives of this research were to describe the main reason(s) why adolescents use electronic cigarettes, to assess how e-cigarette experimenters and users differ based on personal characteristics, and to determine whether its use is associated with the use of other substances among a representative sample of youths in Switzerland.
Methods: A representative sample of 621 youths (308 females) was divided into never users (n=353), experimenters (Only once, n=120) and users (Several times, n=148) of e-cigarettes. Groups were compared on socio-demographic data and current smoking, alcohol misuse and cannabis use. Reasons for e-cigarette use were compared between experimenters and users. A multinomial regression was performed using never users as the reference category.
Results: Forty-three percent had ever tried e-cigarettes, and the main reason was curiosity. Compared to never users, experimenters were more likely to be out of school (Relative Risk Ratio [RRR]: 2.68) and to misuse alcohol (RRR: 2.08), while users were more likely to be male (RRR: 2.75), to be vocational students (RRR: 2.30) or out of school (RRR: 3.48) and to use any of the studied substances (tobacco, RRR: 5.26; alcohol misuse, RRR: 2.71; cannabis use, RRR: 30.2).
Conclusions: Although often still part of adolescent experimentation, e-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among adolescents and they should become part of health providers' standard substance use screening. As health providers (and especially paediatricians) do not seem to have high levels of knowledge and, consequently, little comfort in discussing e-cigarettes, training in this domain should be available to them.
Keywords: Adolescence; Electronic cigarettes; Substance use.
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