HealthDay News — Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is associated with increased subsequent marijuana use among adolescents, according to a study published online April 23 in Pediatrics.

Hongying Dai, Ph.D., from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and colleagues examined the correlation between youth e-cigarette use and subsequent marijuana use in a nationally representative sample. Never marijuana users (aged 12 to 17 years) at Wave 1 (10,364 participants; 2013 to 2014) from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study were followed up at Wave 2 (2014 to 2015).

The researchers found that among never marijuana users, e-cigarette ever use at Wave 1 was associated with increased likelihood of marijuana use in the past 12 months at Wave 2 (adjusted odds ratio, 1.9), compared with never use. A significant interaction was seen for e-cigarette use and age group, with adjusted odds ratios of 2.7 and 1.6 for adolescents aged 12 to 14 and 15 to 17 years, respectively. 

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Among younger adolescents, the correlation with heavy marijuana use was significant (adjusted odds ratio, 2.5), but not among older adolescents. For younger adolescents, reporting a larger number of e-cigarettes/cartridges used in lifetime at Wave 1 correlated with increased odds of marijuana use in the past 12 months and heavy marijuana use at Wave 2.

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“E-cigarette use predicts subsequent marijuana use among youth, with a stronger association among young adolescents,” the authors write. “Policies to reduce youth access to e-cigarettes may have downstream effects on marijuana use.”

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