There is concern that e-cigarette use among youth and young adults (YAs) may lead to future cigarette or other combustible tobacco product use. A synthesis of the literature on this topic is needed because existing longitudinal studies are limited in number and not consistent in their conclusions. We conducted a search in PubMed through December 31, 2017 for peer-reviewed studies related to e-cigarette patterns of use. Of 588 relevant studies, 26 had a youth or YA sample, were longitudinal in design, and assessed e-cigarette use at baseline and cigarette smoking at follow-up. Most studies followed a sample over time and compared cigarette smoking at follow-up between baseline e-cigarette users and nonusers. Other studies examined the difference at follow-up in cigarette smoking status among smokers according to e-cigarette use at baseline. Results suggest that, among never smokers, e-cigarette use is associated with the future (6 months to 2.5 years) cigarette trial; however, firm conclusions cannot be drawn because of limitations including small sample size, measurement of experimental use (ie, ever use, past 30-day use) rather than established use, and inadequate controls for potentially confounding variables. Conclusions also cannot be drawn from studies examining the impact of e-cigarette use among smokers due to the limited number of studies and additional limitations. A comprehensive understanding of this literature is needed to inform policy makers and consumers for evidence-based decision-making and to guide future research on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. Implications: The present article provides a review of the impact of e-cigarette use on subsequent cigarette smoking among youth and YAs. Studies presented here suggest that e-cigarette use among nonsmokers is associated with subsequent cigarette smoking, but study designs are subject to numerous limitations. Future research should focus on addressing the characteristics that put youth and YAs at the risk of using either product and how appeal and accessibility of these products are related to product use in order to inform future policy-making.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health