It’s a known fact that tobacco use tends to begin in adolescence and young adulthood, and sadly earlier initiation of smoking is associated with greater nicotine dependence and sustained tobacco use.

The youngest average age was for cigarette smoking at 12.6, followed by smokeless tobacco at 13.4 years, cigars at 13.8 years, and finally hookah and electronic cigarettes/vapes at 14.1 years.
On the other hand, data on initiation of alternative tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco is limited. To this effect this study analyzed data from the 2014-2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of US students in grades 6-12 yielded 19 580 respondents, who reported ever using any of five tobacco products: electronic cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and hookah.

Amongst other factors, the researchers looked at ages of reported first use in each of these tobacco products, and found that the youngest average age was for cigarette smoking at 12.6, followed by smokeless tobacco at 13.4 years, cigars at 13.8 years, and finally hookah and electronic cigarettes/vapes at 14.1 years.

Initiating tobacco before 13 associated with higher dependence

The researchers found that initiating tobacco products at age 13 or below, was associated with greater current use of the respective product and a stronger nicotine dependence, when compared to initiating at any age above 13 years.

“First tobacco use at age ≤13 years is associated with current daily and past 30-day use of non-cigarette tobacco products, and with the development of nicotine dependence among youth ever-users. Proven tobacco prevention interventions that reach early adolescents are important to reduce overall youth tobacco use,” concluded the study.

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