Does having one or more smoking friends mediate the transition from e-cigarette use to cigarette smoking: a longitudinal study of Canadian youth

Cancer Causes Control. 2021 Jan;32(1):67-74. doi: 10.1007/s10552-020-01358-1. Epub 2020 Oct 27.

Abstract

Purpose: Studies have shown consistent associations between youth e-cigarette use and subsequent smoking uptake. However, it remains unclear why, as limited evidence exists regarding the mechanisms underlying these associations. Our study investigated whether having one or more smoking friends mediated the association between e-cigarette use and cigarette smoking onset among a longitudinal sample of Canadian youth who were never smokers at baseline.

Methods: A longitudinal sample of youth that participated in three waves of the COMPASS study (2015-2016 to 2017-2018) was identified (N = 5,535). The product of coefficients method was used to assess whether having one or more smoking friends mediated the association between: (1) past 30-day e-cigarette use and cigarette smoking onset and (2) past 30-day e-cigarette use and subsequent dual use of e-cigarettes and cigarettes.

Results: Having one or more smoking friends did not mediate the association between (1) past 30-day e-cigarette use and cigarette smoking onset (β = 0.38, 95% CI - 0.12, 0.89) or (2) past 30-day e-cigarette use and subsequent dual use (β = 0.46, 95% CI - 0.16, 1.07). Post hoc tests indicated that smoking friends significantly predicted past 30-day e-cigarette use and cigarette smoking at wave 3 (aOR 1.68 and 2.29, respectively).

Conclusion: Having smoking friends did not explain the association between e-cigarette use and smoking uptake despite being a common risk factor for both e-cigarette use and cigarette smoking. Prevention efforts should consider how best to incorporate effective programming to address these social influences.

Keywords: Longitudinal study; Mediation; Smoking; Youth; e-cigarettes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Canada
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Tobacco
  • Vaping