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The influence of menthol, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products on young adults’ self-reported changes in past year smoking


Objective Progression to regular smoking often occurs during young adulthood. This study examines self-reported changes in past year smoking among young adults and the potential influence of tobacco products on these trajectories.

Methods Respondents to the 2011 National Young Adult Health Survey who smoked 100 cigarettes in their lifetime (n=909) described smoking behaviour at the time of the survey and 1 year prior. Cigarette smoking trajectories were categorised as: no change, quit, decreased smoking or increased smoking. Participants were also asked about current use of menthol cigarettes and other tobacco products (ie, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah) and ever use of e-cigarettes.

Results Most young adults (73.1%) reported stable cigarette smoking behaviours, while 8.2% reported having quit, 5.8% reported that they smoke on fewer days, 5% progressed from someday to daily smoking and 8% increased from not at all to current smoking. The youngest smokers (18–20) had significantly higher odds (adjusted OR (AOR) =2.6) of increasing cigarette use over the past year compared to those aged 30–34, as did blacks versus whites (AOR=2.35). Menthol cigarette use nearly doubled (AOR=1.87) the odds of increased smoking behaviour. E-cigarette and other tobacco product (OTP) use were not associated with increasing smoking but OTP use was negatively associated with remaining quit from cigarettes.

Conclusions Young adulthood is a critical period for smoking interventions, particularly among those most vulnerable to increasing smoking behaviours (ie, black and younger young adults). Policy efforts to restrict menthol cigarettes may reduce young adult smoking progression.

  • Electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • Surveillance and monitoring

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