FRIDAY, Aug. 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Adolescent nicotine and tobacco product use was declining prior to the popularity of electronic cigarettes; whether health risks have increased with the surge in vaping depends on the risk weight assigned to e-cigarettes, according to a study published online Aug. 25 in JAMA Network Open.

Ruoyan Sun, Ph.D., from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, and colleagues used data from the 1999 to 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey to assess trends in nicotine product use among U.S. students in grades 6 through 12.

The researchers found that nicotine product days (NPDs) decreased steadily from 5.6 days per month in 1999 to 2.2 days per month in 2017, but they increased to 4.6 days per month in 2019 and then decreased again to 3.6 days per month in 2020. When researchers adjusted for differential long-term risks of nicotine products, risk-adjusted NPDs may have decreased if the risk associated with vaping was sufficiently low compared with combustible products. Giving e-cigarettes a risk weight of 0.1, compared with combustible products, yielded a risk-adjusted decrease in NPDs from 2.5 days per month in 2013 to 2.0 days per month in 2019 and 1.4 days per month in 2020, whereas a risk weight of 1.0 for e-cigarettes (comparable to combustible products), showed risk-adjusted NPD increases to 5.3 days per month in 2019 and 3.9 days per month in 2020.

“By considering the frequency of use of nicotine products and offering a platform for contemplating the health implications of different mixes of products, we hope that NPDs represent a step forward in assessing adolescent exposure to nicotine products,” the authors write.

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