Association Between Electronic Cigarette Use and Marijuana Use Among Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

JAMA Pediatr. 2019 Oct 1;173(10):e192574. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.2574. Epub 2019 Oct 7.


Importance: Use of electronic cigarettes (often called e-cigarettes) has increased considerably among young people in the past 5 years. Use of e-cigarettes has been associated with higher rates of marijuana use, which is associated with several adverse health outcomes in youth.

Objective: To characterize and quantify the association between e-cigarette and marijuana use among youth using a meta-analysis.

Data sources: PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science & ProQuest Dissertations and Theses were searched from inception to October 2018. A gray-literature search was also conducted on conference abstracts, government reports, and other sources.

Study selection: Included studies compared rates of marijuana use among youth aged 10 to 24 years who had used e-cigarettes vs those who had not used e-cigarettes. Two reviewers independently assessed studies for inclusion; disagreements were discussed with a third reviewer and resolved by consensus.

Data extraction and synthesis: Data were extracted by 2 independent reviewers following Meta-analyses of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) reporting guidelines and pooled using a random-effects analysis. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale was used to assess data quality and validity of individual studies.

Main outcomes and measures: Adjusted odds ratios (AORs) of self-reported past or current marijuana use by youth with vs without past or current e-cigarette use.

Results: Twenty-one of 835 initially identified studies (2.5%) met selection criteria. The meta-analysis included 3 longitudinal and 18 cross-sectional studies that included 128 227 participants. Odds of marijuana use were higher in youth who had an e-cigarette use history vs those who did not (AOR, 3.47 [95% CI, 2.63-4.59]; I2, 94%). Odds of marijuana use were significantly increased in youth who used e-cigarettes in both longitudinal studies (3 studies; AOR, 2.43 [95% CI, 1.51-3.90]; I2, 74%) and cross-sectional studies (18 studies; AOR, 3.70 [95% CI, 2.76-4.96]; I2, 94%). Odds of using marijuana in youth with e-cigarette use were higher in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years (AOR, 4.29 [95% CI, 3.14-5.87]; I2, 94%) than young adults aged 18 to 24 years (AOR, 2.30 [95% CI, 1.40-3.79]; I2, 91%).

Conclusions and relevance: This meta-analysis found a significant increase in the odds of past or current and subsequent marijuana use in adolescents and young adults who used e-cigarettes. These findings highlight the importance of addressing the rapid increases in e-cigarette use among youths as a means to help limit marijuana use in this population.