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The study included more than 1,400 students, aged 18 to 23, at four colleges/universities in upstate New York who took part in an online survey.
More than 95 percent of the respondents knew about e-cigarettes, and nearly 30 percent said they had tried e-cigarettes, the survey found. Those most likely to report current or previous use of e-cigarettes included: males, younger students, whites, those with average or below average school grades, and those who have ever smoked or tried cigarettes.
The survey results also showed that students who considered e-cigarettes to be less harmful than traditional tobacco products were also more likely to use e-cigarettes.
Among e-cigarette users, 87 percent said they used another nicotine product before trying e-cigarettes, and nearly 35 percent said they used tobacco products other than cigarettes, and/or alcohol (about 65 percent) in the past 30 days. In addition, nearly 36 percent said they used marijuana in the past year.
The study was published recently in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
"The awareness and popularity of e-cigarettes among college-aged students is a concern," first study author Megan Saddleson, a doctoral student in the department of community health and health behavior at the University at Buffalo, said in a university news release.
"However, given the results of this study, prevention efforts may be better targeted to all types of drug use, not just e-cigarettes alone," she added.
Dr. Martin Mahoney, study co-author, agreed that "these notable results found that many college students use e-cigarettes as part of a mix of health-risk behaviors, including alcohol and marijuana." Mahoney is a professor of oncology in the departments of medicine and health behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and a professor in the department of community health and health behavior at the University at Buffalo.
"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," Mahoney said in the news release.
-- Robert Preidt
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