University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
UBNow

News and views for UB faculty and staff

Research News

Young adults engaged in other risky behaviors more likely to use e-cigarettes

Research by scientists at UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute found that college students who use tobacco products, marijuana and/or binge drink are more likely to use electronic cigarettes.

By DEBORAH PETTIBONE

Published March 12, 2015

“Given the results of this study, prevention efforts may be better targeted to all types of drug use, not just e-cigarettes alone.”
Megan Saddleson, doctoral student
Department of Community Health and Health Behavior

College students who use tobacco products, marijuana and/or binge drink also are more likely to use electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, according to results of a survey conducted by researchers at UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). Results were published online ahead of print in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“These notable results found that many college students use e-cigarettes as part of a mix of health-risk behaviors, including alcohol and marijuana,” says Martin Mahoney, professor of oncology in the Departments of Medicine and Health Behavior at Roswell Park, and professor in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior at UB. “E-cigarette use among young people is growing rapidly. We hope that this research will help to inform public health professionals as they consider policy decisions regarding these devices.”

Using a Web-based survey, researchers evaluated the use of e-cigarettes and other health-risk behaviors, such as tobacco use and patterns of alcohol and marijuana use, among 1,437 college students age 18-23 who attended four colleges/universities in upstate New York in 2013. Results showed:

  • More than 95 percent of college students surveyed were aware of what e-cigarettes are.
  • Nearly 30 percent reported having ever used e-cigarettes.
  • Younger students, males, non-Hispanic whites, those who report average or below average academic ability, those who have ever smoked, and those who have experimented with traditional cigarettes were most likely to currently use or have previously used e-cigarettes.
  • Students who viewed e-cigarettes as “less harmful” than other tobacco products were more likely to use e-cigarettes.
  • Nearly 87 percent reported they used another nicotine product first before trying e-cigarettes.
  • Those who used e-cigarettes said they also have used tobacco products other than cigarettes (34.7 percent) and/or alcohol (64.7 percent) in the past 30 days; and/or used marijuana (35.6 percent) in the past year.

Megan Saddleson, a doctoral student in the UB Department of Community Health and Health Behavior and the paper’s first author, notes that the awareness and popularity of e-cigarettes among college-aged students is a concern. “However,” she says, “given the results of this study, prevention efforts may be better targeted to all types of drug use, not just e-cigarettes alone.”