Young people who smoke in the United States are adopting new and more complex smoking habits and are using at least two types of tobacco products instead of cigarettes alone. These are the conclusions of a recent study from the RTI International, published in the journal Pediatrics, which analyzed tobacco patterns among the American youth.
Today’s patterns of tobacco consumption are fast becoming more complex, as the market is introducing more and more products, according to the study “Youth Tobacco Product Use in the United States.” Despite the fact that younger consumers still use conventional cigarettes, the consumption of unconventional products is increasing, which include smokeless tobacco, hookah, e-cigarettes, pipes, bidis, kreteks, snus, and dissolvable tobacco, in addition to cigarettes and cigars.
“The prevalence of teens combining multiple tobacco products is alarming, especially since there may be potential additive harms associated with this practice,” said Youn Ok Lee, Ph.D., who serves as research public health analyst at RTI International. “By using more than one tobacco product, teens may be increasing their risk of nicotine dependence.”
Youn Lee led the research team that conducted the study in order to understand smoking patterns among younger consumers, their consumption of multiple tobacco products, as well as to assess the effects of tobacco on the health of the younger American population. Therefore, the researchers estimated the use of each tobacco product through logistic regression and using data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey 2012, which included 24,658 young scholars, as a way of evaluating the risks related to multiple tobacco use.
The results of the study demonstrated that 14.7% of school-aged teenagers use one or more tobacco products, while 2.8% of them consume only cigarettes, 4% consume one other tobacco product singularly, 2.7% consume cigarettes and another product, and 4.3% consume three or more tobacco products, which is classified as polytobacco consumption.
In addition, the exclusive consumption of e-cigarettes doubled the consumption of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes together. Polytobacco was more prominent among males, as well as the use of flavored products, nicotine dependence, tobacco marketing receptivity, and perceived prevalence of peer use of tobacco products. In addition, more than two times of young consumers use two or more tobacco products, compared to those that use cigarettes alone.
“Most individuals have their first experience with tobacco during their teen years,” added Lee. “We found that the use of three or more tobacco products was associated with being male, using flavored tobacco products, nicotine dependence, tobacco marketing receptivity and whether the teen thought their peers used tobacco.”
Due to the findings of the study, the scientists suggested that there is a need for monitoring the patterns of tobacco consumption, particularly regarding the use of e-cigarettes. In addition, the team also believes that despite the findings, further research would be needed in order to understand the consequences of the consumption patterns demonstrated.