By Melissa Vonder Haar, Tobacco Editor, CSP
ATLANTA -- Despite claiming that electronic cigarettes are creating a new generation of smokers, a recently released study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests very few non-smokers are trying out e-cigs.
Released October 31, the 2014 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) collected information on more than 36,000 U.S. adults representing multiple age, ethnicity and gender groups. Besides traditional demographics, the survey grouped respondents into four categories: current tobacco smokers, smokers who quit less than a year ago, smokers who quit more than a year ago and never-smokers.
Here are five findings about who is and isn’t vaping:
1. Age Plays a Factor. Adults aged 18-24 had the highest rate of trial, at 21.6%. That trial rate seemingly decreased with age, with 16.6% of 25-to-44-year olds having tried e-cigarettes, 10.2% of 45-to-64-year olds, and just 3.7% of those over 65.
2. Gender Plays a Minor Factor. According to the NHIS survey, men are slightly more likely to have tried e-cigarettes, with a trial rate of 14.2% (versus 11.2% in women).
3. Smoking History Is a Major Factor in Regular Usage. When considering who currently uses e-cigarettes (as opposed to just having tried them), current smokers and smokers who had quit in the past year had the highest rates (15.9% and 22%, respectively. The survey also suggested that current cigarette smokers who tried to quit in the last year were more likely to vape (20.3%) than those who had not tried to quit (11.8%).
4. Non-Smokers Are Not Vaping. Contrary to the “gateway” accusation, the study suggests e-cigarettes are generally not attracting non-smokers (both those who have never smoked and those who have quit). Just 8.9% of smokers who quit over a year ago reported trying e-cigs, with 2.3% of these former smokers describing themselves as current vapers. In people who never smoked, those figures dropped to a 3.2% trial rate and 0.4% current usage rate compared to the low rates of people who had quit smoking over a year ago (2.3%).
5. Trial Rate Is Three Times Higher Than Repeat Rate. While the survey showed 12.6% of adults have tried e-cigarettes at least once, just 3.7% of respondents are current users of e-cigs.