A quarter of young women who vape haven’t smoked cigarettes – yet

Jan 21 2019

A quarter of young women who vape haven’t smoked cigarettes – yet

A new study has shown that more than one in 10 young Australian women have tried vaping and its popularity is a growing public health concern.

Young women who are current smokers were 10-times more likely to use e-cigarettes, and ex-smokers were 5-times more likely to use-cigarettes than young women who had never smoked.

Research by Alemu Melka from the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI*) has also revealed that over a quarter of young female e-cigarette users have never smoked cigarettes.

“This figure might seem positive, but it is actually concerning because some research indicates that e-cigarette users are more likely to go on to smoke cigarettes,” said Mr Melka

“If public health programs are to curb the uptake of e-cigarettes by young women then we need to understand the risk factors to target.”

“We investigated the factors associated with e-cigarette use amongst young women by surveying almost 9000 women aged 19-26 from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.”

“A lot of the risk factors for e-cigarette use are similar to traditional tobacco use,” said Mr Melka.

The researchers found that younger women were more likely to have used e-cigarettes in the previous 12 months than older women.

Young women who drank more than two standard drinks per day or who were in financial difficulty were also more likely to have use e-cigarettes recently than other young women.”

Women who lived in urban areas were more likely to have tried vaping, probably because e-cigarettes are more easily available.

Additionally, women who had experienced domestic abuse were also more likely to have tried using e-cigarettes at some point.

“E-cigarettes are touted as being a healthier alternative to tobacco and a quit smoking aid but the scientific evidence just isn’t there yet,” said Dr Catherine Chojenta from the University of Newcastle and the HMRI.

“There are concerns about the harmful effects of nicotine and other compounds used in e-cigarette flavourings but it could be another 10 or 20 years before we can say whether there are long term health consequences,” said Dr Chojenta.

Mr Melka is conducting follow up research to investigate whether e-cigarette users from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health go on to become tobacco smokers.

This research is available in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and managed by the University of Newcastle and the University of Queensland.

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.