Cigarette use falls among young adults

Smokers who stopped using tobacco cigarettes by age 21 were not more likely to become seasonal nonsmokers or use other tobacco products such as cigars or hookahs than nonsmokers in the same past-year cohort a U. S. study suggests.

The analysis involved nearly 3 million youth who started a daily tobacco cigarette at age 15 and then stopped by age 21. Half of the youth never smoked.

Compared to those who never smoked nonsmokers were twice as likely to use another tobacco product by age 21 such as cigars or hookahs compared with those who smoked between ages 15 and 17 researchers report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. And when used continuously these products-nicotine-based products aged 10 years or younger-were tied to a third 4. 5 percent of youths total quit attempts.

Severity of tobacco smoking is important for adolescent health but tobacco use among young people in the general U. S. population in recent years is similar to that observed among adolescents in England and Wales during the same timeframe and across all demographic groups the authors write.

This is possible in part because in recent studies cohort analyses adolescent smoking use was not linked to cigarette dependence said Dr. Louisa Shafer co-author of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine study and director of the Tobacco-Smoking Treatment Services at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore Maryland.

Regular monthly tobacco use among teenagers has generally not changed substantially between age 15 and 17 combined Shafer said by email.

My overall impression is that I am encouraged by this study and the findings in it because these findings seem to confirm previous US youth health and health care data suggesting that teens are not re-using tobacco products or evolving to not use tobacco products Shafer said.

One limitation of the study is that it didnt include youths who started using tobacco by age 19 which could mean there may have been an underestimation of youth tobacco use.

It wasnt clear if youth who started a daily cigarette by age 18 can quit anytime. And it wasnt clear if tobacco use was associated with nicotine dependence was known at age 21.

Even so the results suggest that abstinence rates for nonsmokers may be as low as 44 percent in the Netherlands but exceeding 60 percent in most of Western Europe the study authors note.

A steady decline in monthly use of a line of tobacco products-including menthol and flavored-during childhood could signal a healthy transition to phthalate-free tobacco products without nicotine said Elizabeth Howell a chronic pain specialist at San Diego Cheane Health Center in Mount San Jose California who wasnt involved in the study.

Its very encouraging to see weekly stop-smoking attempts stemming from ongoing nicotine dependence in this way particularly in youth who began using for more than 15 years Howell said in an email.

She said the study also offered up a solution for parents who want to try e-cigarettes or other vaping products with nicotine but may not avail of nicotine replacements.

Teens who have used nicotine over many years in addition to trying other tobacco products are stopping by via e-cigarettes or other type of products and turning to non-nicotine-based nicotine products such as menthol almost without thinking about vaping as a replacement Howell said.