Age at Initiation of Cigarette Use in a Nationally Representative Sample of US Youth, 2013-2017

Abstract

Importance: Cigarettes are still a commonly used tobacco product among youth despite recent declines in cigarette use.

Objective: The aim of this study was to prospectively estimate the age of cigarette use initiation among youth (aged 12-17 years) overall, by sex, and by race/ethnicity.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study used data from waves 1 through 4 of the nationally representative Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, conducted from September 12, 2013, to January 3, 2018. Two subpopulations of youth were assessed: (1) those nonsusceptible to cigarette use and (2) never users of cigarettes at their first wave of PATH participation. Weighted interval-censoring survival analyses were used to prospectively estimate the age of initiation of cigarette use outcomes. Weighted interval-censoring Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate differences in the age of initiation by sex and by race/ethnicity. Statistical analyses were performed from October 7, 2019, to May 1, 2020.

Exposures: Differences in the age of initiation by sex and race/ethnicity.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Age of initiation of susceptibility to cigarette use, ever use, past 30-day use, and fairly regular cigarette use overall, by sex, and by race/ethnicity.

Results: A total of 15 776 youth never users and, among them, 11 022 youth who were nonsusceptible to cigarette use, were included in this study (weighted mean [SE] age, 13.5 [0.01] years; 58.6% [SE, 0.46%] non-Hispanic White; and 51.0% [SE, 0.32%] boys) and 15 776 were never users of cigarettes at their first wave of PATH participation (weighted mean [SE] age, 13.7 [0.01] years; 55.0% [SE, 0.29%] non-Hispanic White; and 51.0% [SE, 0.15%] boys). By age 18 years, among those who were nonsusceptible, 46.2% (95% CI, 44.3%-48.2%) became susceptible to cigarette use. Among never users, 24.4% (95% CI, 22.9%-25.9%) initiated ever cigarette use, 16.4% (95% CI, 15.2%-17.6%) initiated past 30-day cigarette use, and 4.3% (95% CI, 3.9%-4.8%) initiated fairly regular cigarette use. Boys had a higher risk of initiating ever (hazard ratio [HR], 1.21; 95% CI, 1.08-1.36) and past 30-day cigarette use (HR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.10-1.47) at earlier ages compared with girls. Non-Hispanic White youth had a higher risk of an earlier age of initiation of susceptibility to cigarette use (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.68-0.88), ever use (HR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.49-0.71), past 30-day use (HR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.52-0.77), and fairly regular cigarette use (HR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.14-0.43) compared with non-Hispanic Black youth.

Conclusions and Relevance: The results of this cohort study suggest that, despite current interventions and existing laws, a large number of youth initiated cigarette use before the legal age to purchase tobacco products.

Citation
Pérez A, N’hpang RS, Callahan E, et al. Age at Initiation of Cigarette Use in a Nationally Representative Sample of US Youth, 2013-2017. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(2):e210218. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.0218
Publication Date
Research Language

English

Country
United States