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Prospective study of e-cigarette use and respiratory symptoms in adolescents and young adults

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Rationale Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) aerosol contains volatile aldehydes, including flavourings and oxidant metals with known pulmonary toxicity.

Objectives To evaluate the associations of e-cigarette use with symptoms of wheeze, bronchitic symptoms and shortness of breath (SOB) across 4 years of prospective data.

Methods Participants completed questionnaires on respiratory symptoms and past 30-day e-cigarette, cigarette and cannabis use in 2014 (wave 1; N=2094; mean age 17.3 years, SD=0.6 years). Follow-up information was collected in 2015 (wave 2; n=1609), 2017 (wave 3; n=1502) and 2018 (wave 4; n=1637) using online surveys. Mixed-effects logistic regression models evaluated associations of e-cigarette use with respiratory symptoms.

Measurements and main results Participants were mostly Hispanic white (51.8%) and evenly representative by sex (49.6% female; 50.4% male). Compared with never e-cigarette users, past 30-day e-cigarette users reported increased odds of wheeze (OR 1.95; 95% CI 1.39, 2.72), bronchitic symptoms (OR 2.10; 95% CI 1.61, 2.73) and SOB (OR 1.81; 95% CI 1.25, 2.60), adjusting for study wave, age, sex, race, lifetime asthma diagnosis and parental education. Effect estimates were attenuated (wheeze (OR 1.48; 95% CI 1.05, 2.09), bronchitic symptoms (OR 1.58; 95% CI 1.20, 2.07), SOB (OR 1.52; 95% CI 1.04, 2.22)), after adjusting additionally for current cigarette use, cannabis use and secondhand exposure to e-cigarettes/cigarettes/cannabis.

Conclusions E-cigarette use in young adults was associated with respiratory symptoms, independent of combustible cannabis and cigarette exposures.


  1. Alayna P Tackett1
  2. Robert Urman2
  3. Jessica Barrington-Trimis2
  4. Feifei Liu2
  5. Hanna Hong3
  6. Mary Ann Pentz2
  7. http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2837-865XTalat S Islam2
  8. Sandrah P Eckel2
  9. Meghan Rebuli4
  10. Adam Leventhal2
  11. Jonathan M Samet5
  12. Kiros Berhane6
  13. Rob McConnell2
  14. Correspondence to Dr Rob McConnell, Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 20089, USA; [email protected]

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Source: BMJ Journals

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