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Are e-cigarettes reviving the popularity of conventional smoking among Taiwanese male adolescents? A time-trend population-based analysis for 2004-2017


Introduction In Taiwan, national tobacco use surveys show that e-cigarette use has increased since 2014 among youth, while, at the same time, conventional cigarette smoking has continuously decreased. The purpose of this study is to examine whether the increased popularity of e-cigarettes has undermined this favourable declining trend for cigarette smoking.

Methods We examined conventional cigarette and e-cigarette prevalence among male high school students (aged 16–18 years) and adults from 2004 to 2017, using data from cross-sectional nationally representative surveys. Applying interrupted time series analysis, we assessed whether there was a change in trend in 2014, when e-cigarette use started to gain popularity from long-term trends in prior years (2004–2013).

Results E-cigarette use prevalence increased from 2.5% in 2014 to 6.4% in 2017 among male high school students but was negligible among male adults, declining from 1.4% in 2015 to 0.8% in 2017. The annual relative decline in the cigarette smoking rate after e-cigarettes started to gain popularity was greater (−10%) than the long-term trend (−2%) among high school students. Among adults, the change in trend over time after e-cigarettes started to gain popularity was not significant (ie, not significantly different from 0).

Conclusions The increased popularity of e-cigarettes since 2014 is associated with a greater decline in youth smoking, compared with previous years. On the contrary, e-cigarette use has remained very low among Taiwanese male adults and no additional impact on the conventional smoking trend is found.

  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • surveillance and monitoring
  • global health

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