Smoking Out an Association Between Mental Health Problems, E-Cigarette and Combustible
Cigarette Initiation and Use
LewisFirst, MD, MS, Editor in Chief, Pediatrics
Prior studies have demonstrated an association between teens with mental health problems
and their initiating combustible tobacco cigarette usage, what about electronic cigarettes?
Riehm et al. (10.1542/peds.2018-2935) share their findings addressing this question in an early release study. The authors
used data obtained from teens enrolled in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and
Health Study, a nationally representative longitudinal study that sampled 7,702 adolescents
ages 12-17 between 2013 and 2015. They followed the teens from a baseline of no use
of tobacco products and then looked at their smoking habits (combustible, e-cigarette,
or dual use) one year later. The results showed that the presence of mental health
issues was associated with increased use of smoking products in the teens surveyed.
Just what specific mental health issues (e.g. internalizing or externalizing problems)
and what smoking products are most associated with these issues awaits your perusal
of this interesting study. While causality cannot be proven, addressing adolescent
mental health issues may be a way to reduce the incidence of combustible or e-cigarette
smoking, which may be an additional unexpected benefit in our quest to treat or better
yet prevent mental illness in our teens and young adult patients.