Objectives: Little evidence is available on the association of e-cigarettes with health indices. We investigated the association of e-cigarette use with diagnosed respiratory disorder among adults in data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS).
Methods: The 2016 Hawaii BRFSS, a cross-sectional random-dial telephone survey, had 8087 participants; mean age was 55 years. Items asked about e-cigarette use, cigarette smoking, and being diagnosed by a health professional with (a) asthma or (b) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Multivariable analyses tested associations of e-cigarette use with the respiratory variables controlling for smoking and for demographic, physical, and psychosocial variables.
Results: Controlling for the covariates and smoking there was a significant association of e-cigarette use with chronic pulmonary disorder in the total sample (AOR = 2.58, CI 1.36-4.89, p < 0.01) and a significant association with asthma among nonsmokers (AOR = 1.33, CI 1.00-1.77, p < 0.05). The associations were stronger among nonsmokers than among smokers. Results were similar for analyses based on relative risk and absolute risk. There was also a greater likelihood of respiratory disorder for smokers, females, and persons with overweight, financial stress, and secondhand smoke exposure.
Conclusions: This is the first study to show a significant independent association of e-cigarette use with chronic respiratory disorder. Several aspects of the data are inconsistent with the possibility that e-cigarettes were being used for smoking cessation by persons with existing respiratory disorder. Theoretical mechanisms that might link e-cigarettes use and respiratory symptoms are discussed.
Keywords: Adults; Asthma; COPD; E-cigarettes; Smoking.
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