Longitudinal transitions of exclusive and polytobacco electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) use among youth, young adults and adults in the USA: findings from the PATH Study Waves 1-3 (2013-2016)

Tob Control. 2020 May;29(Suppl 3):s147-s154. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2019-055574.


Objective: Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS; including e-cigarettes) are rapidly evolving in the US marketplace. This study reports cross-sectional prevalence and longitudinal pathways of ENDS use across 3 years, among US youth (12-17 years), young adults (18-24 years) and adults 25+ (25 years and older).

Design: Data were from the first three waves (2013-2016) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, a nationally representative, longitudinal cohort study of US youth and adults. Respondents with data at all three waves (youth, n=11 046; young adults, n=6478; adults 25+, n=17 188) were included in longitudinal analyses.

Results: Weighted cross-sectional ever use of ENDS increased at each wave. Across all three waves, young adults had the highest percentages of past 12-month, past 30-day (P30D) and daily P30D ENDS use compared with youth and adults 25+. Only about a quarter of users had persistent P30D ENDS use at each wave. Most ENDS users were polytobacco users. Exclusive Wave 1 ENDS users had a higher proportion of subsequent discontinued any tobacco use compared with polytobacco ENDS users who also used cigarettes.

Conclusions: ENDS use is most common among young adults compared with youth and adults 25+. However, continued use of ENDS over 2 years is not common for any age group. Health education efforts to reduce the appeal and availability of ENDS products might focus on reducing ENDS experimentation, and on reaching the smaller subgroups of daily ENDS users to better understand their reasons for use.

Keywords: electronic nicotine delivery devices; non-cigarette tobacco products; prevention; surveillance and monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural