Adolescents Who Use E-cigarettes, Marijuana Have Higher Odds of Lifetime Asthma

August 10, 2020

New research presented at the ATS 2020 Virtual meeting shows adolescents who use e-cigarettes along with marijuana and/or cigarette smoking have significantly higher odds of lifetime asthma.

US adolescents who use electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are at a higher risk of lifetime asthma, and this association significantly increases when combined with marijuana use or cigarette smoking, according to a new cross-sectional study presented at the American Thoracic Society 2020 Virtual meeting held August 5 to August 10, 2020.

E-cigarette use has been linked to asthma or asthma symptoms; however, little is known about the combined effect of e-cigarettes with marijuana or cigarette smoking. Therefore, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh examined whether e-cigarette use combined with marijuana or cigarette smoking could increase the risk for lifetime asthma among US adolescents.

The study included 21 532 adolescents aged 12-18 years (5222 with lifetime asthma and 16 310 control subjects) who participated in the 2015 and 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Researchers used the self-administered YRBS questionnaires to collect information on demographic characteristics, asthma, and use of an electronic vapor product, alone or in combination with marijuana and/or cigarette smoking.

For each product or substance, frequent use was defined as use for at least 10 days in the previous 30 days.

The results showed that frequent use of e-cigarettes, marijuana, and cigarette smoking were each significantly associated with 23%-68% increased odds of lifetime asthma. Also, frequent use of e-cigarettes was associated with 1.31 times increased odds of lifetime asthma (95% confidence interval, odds ratio=1.11-1.54).

Using e-cigarettes and marijuana (± cigarette smoking) was more strongly associated with lifetime asthma vs e-cigarette use alone.

Results were similar in analyses stratified by sex or race and ethnicity.

“Our results further support policies to stop use of e-cigarettes in children, as well as continued research on the detrimental effects of e-cigarettes on respiratory health,” concluded authors.