Public health concerns regarding e-cigarettes and debate on appropriate regulatory responses are focusing on the need to prevent child access to these devices. However, little is currently known about the characteristics of those young people that are accessing e-cigarettes.
Using a cross-sectional survey of 14-17 year old school students in North West England (n = 16,193) we examined associations between e-cigarette access and demographics, conventional smoking behaviours, alcohol consumption, and methods of accessing cigarettes and alcohol. Access to e-cigarettes was identified through a question asking students if they had ever tried or purchased e-cigarettes.
One in five participants reported having accessed e-cigarettes (19.2%). Prevalence was highest among smokers (rising to 75.8% in those smoking >5 per day), although 15.8% of teenagers that had accessed e-cigarettes had never smoked conventional cigarettes (v.13.6% being ex-smokers). E-cigarette access was independently associated with male gender, having parents/guardians that smoke and students’ alcohol use. Compared with non-drinkers, teenagers that drank alcohol at least weekly and binge drank were more likely to have accessed e-cigarettes (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.89, P