Background: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarette) use among youth is a pressing public health issue, with prevalence of use surpassing that of tobacco cigarettes. While research concerning e-cigarettes has proliferated in recent years, there is a dearth of information regarding those whose first exposure to tobacco products was an e-cigarette.
Objectives: To examine factors associated with e-cigarette initiation among minority youth in the United States.
Methods: Data on minority students in middle and high schools in the United States derived from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) were sampled (weighted N = 27,294,454). We examined e-cigarette initiation among minority youth using logistic regression models to identify related factors.
Results: In 2014, 736,158 minority youth were e-cigarette initiators. Odds of e-cigarette initiation was highest among Hispanic youth [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2.70; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.60-4.56]. Exposure to e-cigarette advertising (AOR = 1.64; 95% CI = 1.07-2.50), perceptions of little to no harm (AOR = 7.08; 95% CI = 4.03-12.46), and believing e-cigarettes were less addictive than tobacco (AOR = 2.15; 95% CI = 1.52-3.02) were associated with e-cigarette initiation.
Conclusions: Odds of initiating e-cigarette use was highest among Hispanic youth. Among minority youth, e-cigarette initiation was associated with perceptions of harm and addiction potential, as well as exposure to e-cigarette advertising. Therefore, prevention efforts targeting minority youth who are at risk of becoming e-cigarette initiators may benefit by incorporating these factors into prevention campaigns.
Keywords: Electronic cigarettes; minority; nicotine; youth.