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OBJECTIVES: To examine the prevalence of electronic(e)-cigarette use, prevalence of e-cigarette and tobacco use by age, and associations of e-cigarette use with sociodemographic characteristics, tobacco and cannabis use among young people in Wales. DESIGN: Data from two nationally-representative cross-sectional surveys undertaken in 2013-2014. Logistic regression analyses, adjusting for school-level clustering, examined sociodemographic characteristics of e-cigarette use, and associations between e-cigarette use and smoking. SETTING: Primary and secondary schools in Wales. PARTICIPANTS: Primary-school children aged 10-11 (n=1601) and secondary-school students aged 11-16 (n=9055). RESULTS: Primary-school children were more likely to have used e-cigarettes (5.8%) than tobacco (1.6%). Ever use of e-cigarettes remained more prevalent than ever use of tobacco until age 14-15. Overall, 12.3% of secondary-school students (aged 11-16) reported ever using e-cigarettes, with no differences according to gender, ethnicity or family affluence. The percentage of 'never smokers' reporting having used e-cigarettes was 5.3% at age 10-11 to 8.0% at age 15-16. The proportion of children who had ever used an e-cigarette and reported currently smoking increased from 6.9% among 10-11 year olds to 39.2% in 15-16 year olds. Only 1.5% (n=125) of 11-16 year-olds, including 0.3% of never smokers, reported regular e-cigarette use (use at least once a month). Current weekly smokers were 100 times more likely than non-smokers to report regular e-cigarette use (relative risk ratio (RRR=121.15; 95% CI 57.56 to 254.97). Regular e-cigarette use was also more likely among those who had smoked cannabis (RRR 53.03; 95% CI 38.87 to 80.65). CONCLUSIONS: Many young people (including never-smokers) have tried e-cigarettes. However, regular use is less common, and is associated with tobacco cigarette use. Longitudinal research is needed to understand age-related trajectories of e-cigarette use and to understand the temporal nature of relationships between e-cigarette and tobacco use.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





PREVENTIVE MEDICINE, PUBLIC HEALTH, Smoking, Adolescent, Child, Cross-Sectional Studies, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, Female, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Marijuana Smoking, Odds Ratio, Prevalence, Schools, Smoking, Surveys and Questionnaires, Tobacco Products, Wales