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Letters
Use of electronic cigarettes among young Swiss men
  1. Nedialka Douptcheva1,
  2. Gerhard Gmel2,
  3. Joseph Studer2,
  4. Stéphane Deline2,
  5. Jean-François Etter1
  1. 1 Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2 Alcohol Treatment Centre, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Nedialka Douptcheva, Institut de médecine sociale et préventive, Université de Genève, CMU, 1 rue Michel-Servet, Genève 4 CH-1211, Switzerland; Nedialka.Douptcheva{at}unige.ch

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Electronic cigarettes have been recently gaining popularity, but there is little information on the public health implications of vaping or on the profile of vapers. The status of e-cigarettes in Switzerland was established in 20091 and the sales of e-cigarettes containing nicotine have been prohibited. However, the import of limited quantities of nicotine containing e-cigarettes and refill liquids for personal use is allowed. In this study, we describe the prevalence of e-cigarette use among young Swiss men and examine the associations between e-cigarette use and some characteristics of this population.

The analysis is part of the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors (C-SURF), a longitudinal study among young Swiss men enrolled during mandatory visits at army recruitment centres. Among those who agreed to participate in the study, C-SURF collected baseline and follow-up data between August 2010 and February 2013. The current e-cigarette analysis sample consists of 5081 participants.

In the past 12 months, a minority (4.9%) of participants had used e-cigarettes, and of those, 12.0% (30/249) were using them daily. Among current smokers, 9.3% (222/2376) had used e-cigarettes, and 12.2% of those (27/222), were using them daily. Among former smokers, 1.6% (22/1343) had used e-cigarettes and of those 13.6% (3/22) used them daily. Among never smokers, 0.4% (5/1362) had used e-cigarettes and none used them daily. These results conform with findings of most published studies where the highest use of e-cigarettes is reported among current smokers.2–5

We found significant associations between e-cigarette use, smoking, age, language and education, but these associations were confounded by smoking status (table 1). When this analysis was restricted to the 2376 current smokers, e-cigarette use was associated only with secondary education (vs tertiary or primary, OR=1.5, p=0.004) and with region (German vs French-speaking, OR=1.3, p=0.039).

Table 1

Characteristics of the study population

Evaluating the dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, we looked at daily smokers (n=1233) and among them compared daily vapers with non-vapers (n=25 and 1064 respectively, excluding 144 occasional vapers). We observed no statistically significant difference between vapers and non-vapers in the number of cigarettes smoked per day, the Fagerström test for nicotine dependence and the number of quit attempts in the past 12 months.

While there are still many unanswered questions about e-cigarette use and vaping habits in Switzerland and elsewhere, the C-SURF study enabled us to assess use of e-cigarette for the first time in a representative sample of young Swiss men.

References

Footnotes

  • Contributors The listed authors have been credited with authorship based on the provided authorship criteria as follows: ND: conception, design, analysis and interpretation of the data, drafting of manuscript, final approval; GG: critical revision of manuscript, final approval; JS: acquisition of data, interpretation of data, final approval; SD: critical revision of manuscript, final approval; J-FE: Conception, design, interpretation of the data, critical revision of manuscript, final approval.

  • Funding This work was supported by Swiss National Science Foundation (grant 33CSC0-122679).

  • Competing interests Dr. Etter reports that he was reimbursed (plane + hotel) by a manufacturer of refill liquids for e-cigarettes, for traveling to London and to China, to visit e-cigarette factories. He was not paid for these meetings.

  • Ethics approval Ethics Committee for Clinical the Research of Lausanne University Medical School.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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