Introduction: Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use prevalence is increasing among U.S. adolescents and adults but recent longitudinal data for college/university students are scarce. Furthermore, the extent that e-cigarette use is associated with the onset of cigarette smoking and the factors that lead to the uptake of e-cigarettes in college students has not been explored.
Methods: 3757 participants from a Mid-Atlantic university (women: 66%; White: 45%; Black: 21%; Asian: 19%; Hispanic/Latino: 6%) were surveyed in 2014 and again in 2015.
Results: Among participants reporting never smoking at time 1, those who had ever tried e-cigarettes or were currently using e-cigarettes (at least one use in past 30days) were more likely to have ever tried cigarettes by time 2 relative to individuals who had not used e-cigarettes. Ever use of e-cigarettes (but not current use) also increased participants' likelihood of being current cigarette smokers at time 2. Among initial never users of e-cigarettes or cigarettes, males and ever marijuana users had an increased probability of trying e-cigarettes by time 2. Furthermore, less perseverance (an index of impulsivity) and ever use of other tobacco products increased initial never users' chances of trying both cigarettes and e-cigarettes by time 2.
Conclusions: Given that never-smoking participants who had tried e-cigarettes were more likely to initiate cigarette use later, limiting young adults' access to these products may be beneficial. As the long-term health implications of e-cigarette use become clearer, predictors of e-cigarette use could help identify future populations likely to use and abuse these products.
Keywords: College/university students; Electronic cigarettes; Longitudinal tobacco use; Tobacco cigarettes.
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