Importance: Approximately 90% of adult smokers first tried a cigarette by 18 years of age, and even infrequent smoking in adolescence is associated with established adult smoking. Noncigarette tobacco use is increasing and could stimulate subsequent conventional cigarette smoking in youths.
Objective: To estimate the longitudinal association between noncigarette tobacco use and subsequent cigarette smoking initiation among US youth.
Design, setting, and participants: In this prospective cohort study of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) waves 1 (September 12, 2013, to December 14, 2014) and 2 (October 23, 2014, to October 30, 2015), a nationally representative sample of youths who never smoked a conventional cigarette at baseline and completed wave 2 follow-up (N = 10 384) was studied. PATH retention at follow-up was 87.9%.
Exposures: Ever use and past 30-day use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), hookah, noncigarette combustible tobacco, or smokeless tobacco at baseline.
Main outcomes and measures: Ever use and past 30-day use of cigarettes at follow-up.
Results: The present analysis was based on the 10 384 PATH youth respondents who reported never having smoked a cigarette in wave 1 and whose cigarette ever or past 30-day use was reported in wave 2 (mean [SD] age, 14.3 [1.7] years; age range, 12-17 years; 5087 [49.1%] female; 4829 [52.5%] white). At 1-year follow-up, 469 (4.6%) of all baseline never-smoking youths had tried a cigarette and 219 (2.1%) had smoked a cigarette within the past 30 days. Cigarette ever use at follow-up was higher among youths who had ever used e-cigarettes (78 [19.1%]), hookah (60 [18.3%]), noncigarette combustible tobacco (45 [19.2%]), or smokeless tobacco (29 [18.8%]) at baseline. After adjusting for sociodemographic, environmental, and behavioral smoking risk factors and for baseline ever use of other tobacco products, the odds of past 30-day cigarette use at follow-up were approximately twice as high among baseline ever users of e-cigarettes (odds ratio [OR], 1.87; 95% CI, 1.15-3.05), hookah (OR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.17-3.17), noncigarette combustible tobacco (OR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.00-3.19), and smokeless tobacco (OR, 2.07; 95% CI, 1.10-3.87). Youths who had tried more than 1 type of tobacco product at baseline had 3.81 (95% CI, 2.22-6.54) greater adjusted odds of past 30-day cigarette smoking at follow-up than did baseline never tobacco users.
Conclusions and relevance: Any use of e-cigarettes, hookah, noncigarette combustible tobacco, or smokeless tobacco was independently associated with cigarette smoking 1 year later. Use of more than 1 product increased the odds of progressing to cigarette use.