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Vaping tied to sexual, substance-related risk behaviours in teens

Audrey Abella
07 May 2019

Use of electronic vapour products (EVP), or vaping, has been associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in sexual and substance-use risk behaviours among US teenagers, according to data from the 2017 National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey presented at the Paediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2019 Meeting.

A total of 12,667 participants were classified according to previous 30-day EVP and cigarette usage (ie, nonuse, EVP or cigarette only, or dual use). The 30-day EVP usage frequency was also stratified into 0, 1–9, 10–29, or 30 days. Ten sexual (eg, early sexual debut, alcohol consumption before sex) and 13 substance-use (eg, misuse of prescription pain medication, binge drinking) risk behaviours were identified as dependent variables.

The incidence of EVP only or dual use was higher than the proportion of respondents who only smoked cigarettes (6.5 percent each for EVP only and dual use vs 2.8 percent for cigarette only) over the 30-day period.

Compared with nonuse, EVP only and dual use were associated with a greater likelihood of engagement in nine out of 10 sexual risk behaviours.

Moreover, cigarette, EVP, and dual use were all associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in 12 out of the 13 substance-use risk behaviours compared with nonusers.

“Our study not only expanded upon previous studies examining teen vaping and drug use … we also investigated novel associations between vaping and various sexual risk behaviours,” said study investigator Dr Andrew Adesman from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, New York, US.

The use of EVPs, which are the most popular tobacco product among US youth as per the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, has already reached epidemic proportions, noted Adesman, with the current usage increasing since 2016.

“Adolescent EVP use, with or without concurrent cigarette smoking, is associated with a higher likelihood of engagement in several substance-use risk behaviours,” said co-investigator Ms Devyn Rigsby.

While the current findings reflect a strong association between vaping and several sexual and substance-use risk behaviours on a general scale, with a greater prevalence among dual vs EVP-only users, there was no difference in the likelihood of engagement in such behaviours when comparing frequency of vaping among teens, Adesman pointed out.

“[Therefore,] initiatives to reduce youth substance use and youth engagement in risky sexual behaviours should include efforts to reduce teen vaping at all frequency levels,” underscored Adesman.

 

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