Importance: The public health implications of e-cigarettes depend, in part, on whether e-cigarette use affects the risk of cigarette smoking.
Objective: To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies that assessed initial use of e-cigarettes and subsequent cigarette smoking.
Data sources: PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, the 2016 Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco 22nd Annual Meeting abstracts, the 2016 Society of Behavioral Medicine 37th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions abstracts, and the 2016 National Institutes of Health Tobacco Regulatory Science Program Conference were searched between February 7 and February 17, 2017. The search included indexed terms and text words to capture concepts associated with e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes in articles published from database inception to the date of the search.
Study selection: Longitudinal studies reporting odds ratios for cigarette smoking initiation associated with ever use of e-cigarettes or past 30-day cigarette smoking associated with past 30-day e-cigarette use. Searches yielded 6959 unique studies, of which 9 met inclusion criteria (comprising 17 389 adolescents and young adults).
Data extraction and synthesis: Study quality and risk of bias were assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale and the Risk of Bias in Non-randomized Studies of Interventions tool, respectively. Data and estimates were pooled using random-effects meta-analysis.
Main outcomes and measures: Among baseline never cigarette smokers, cigarette smoking initiation between baseline and follow-up. Among baseline non-past 30-day cigarette smokers who were past 30-day e-cigarette users, past 30-day cigarette smoking at follow-up.
Results: Among 17 389 adolescents and young adults, the ages ranged between 14 and 30 years at baseline, and 56.0% were female. The pooled probabilities of cigarette smoking initiation were 30.4% for baseline ever e-cigarette users and 7.9% for baseline never e-cigarette users. The pooled probabilities of past 30-day cigarette smoking at follow-up were 21.5% for baseline past 30-day e-cigarette users and 4.6% for baseline non-past 30-day e-cigarette users. Adjusting for known demographic, psychosocial, and behavioral risk factors for cigarette smoking, the pooled odds ratio for subsequent cigarette smoking initiation was 3.62 (95% CI, 2.42-5.41) for ever vs never e-cigarette users, and the pooled odds ratio for past 30-day cigarette smoking at follow-up was 4.28 (95% CI, 2.52-7.27) for past 30-day e-cigarette vs non-past 30-day e-cigarette users at baseline. A moderate level of heterogeneity was observed among studies (I2 = 60.1%).
Conclusions and relevance: e-Cigarette use was associated with greater risk for subsequent cigarette smoking initiation and past 30-day cigarette smoking. Strong e-cigarette regulation could potentially curb use among youth and possibly limit the future population-level burden of cigarette smoking.