Background: Heated tobacco products (HTPs) may compromise decades-long efforts to marginalise the tobacco industry. Their appeal to adolescents imposes a risk of a new tobacco epidemic. Empirical evidence on the behavioural patterns of HTP use among adolescents is required. We investigated the prevalence of HTP use and the association between use of HTPs and e-cigarettes and attempts to quit smoking cigarettes.
Methods: Nationally representative cross-sectional survey data of South Korean adolescents aged 12-18 years (mean age: 15 years) were used. The survey was conducted 1 year after the introduction of HTPs in Korea. A total of 59 532 adolescents were identified. Descriptive statistics and multiple logistic regression results are presented.
Results: In all, 2.8% of South Korean adolescents were ever HTP users. Among these, 75.5% were current cigarette users, 45.6% were current e-cigarette users and 40.3% were concurrent users of cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Unlike ever use of e-cigarettes, which was associated with a higher likelihood of cigarette quit attempts (adjusted OR (aOR)=1.35, 95% CI: 1.16 to 1.58), no difference in cigarette quit attempts was found for ever use of HTPs (aOR=1.07, 95% CI: 0.91 to 1.26).
Conclusion: Considering the recent introduction of HTPs to the Korean market and less than 1% prevalence of e-cigarette when first introduced, the prevalence of ever HTP use among Korean adolescents is an important concern. The results showing high polytobacco use and the lack of an association between HTP use and cigarette quit attempts call for a ban on HTP advertisements with modified harm claims.
Keywords: denormalisation; non-cigarette tobacco products; priority/special populations; surveillance and monitoring.
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Conflict of interest statement
Competing interests: None declared.
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