The electronic cigarette: more and more student consumers

Of MBO and HBO students aged 16 to 18, more than 4 out of 10 used an e-cigarette. One in eight (12%) still use the e-cigarette. Boys are more likely to use the e-cigarette than girls. There are no major differences between youth of different ages. Among students who have used an e-cigarette more than once, three percent do so (almost) daily, three percent (almost) weekly, and 37 percent occasionally. More than half who have used an e-cigarette more than once have already quit (57%). Among students who use an e-cigarette at least once in a while, nearly one-third (32%) always or mostly use an e-cigarette containing nicotine. Another quarter (24%) report sometimes using an e-cigarette with nicotine. One in ten (10%) do not know if they have ever used an e-cigarette containing nicotine.

Which comes first: tobacco or e-cigarette?

Of current e-cigarette users, 41% have not smoked tobacco in the past month, 16% have smoked in the past month but not daily, and 43% have smoked tobacco daily. Among students who have ever smoked tobacco and used an e-cigarette, 59% started smoking tobacco, one in five (19%) started with an e-cigarette, and 5% started both at the same time. The remaining 16% do not know where they started. Of MBO and HBO students aged 16-18, more than half (51%) have ever smoked, almost one-third (31%) have smoked in the past month, and one in six (17%) smoke daily. There are no differences between boys and girls.

On average seven cigarettes per day

Students who smoke (smoked last month) smoke an average of seven cigarettes a day. This also does not differ between boys and girls. For the group as a whole, smoking does not increase with age, but 16- and 17-year-old boys smoke less per day than 18-year-old boys.

Support for Smoking Cessation

Occasional smokers and those who have ever smoked were asked about smoking cessation attempts. Among current smokers, 56% have tried to quit for 24 hours or more. One-third of quitters were former smokers and two-thirds were current smokers. Quitters (n=890) were asked if they used aids to quit smoking. One in ten smokers indicated that they did; 90% quit without help.

E cigarette most often used device

Former smokers had less help quitting (5%) than current smokers (12%). This may be explained by the fact that many former smokers never started smoking regularly. The most frequently mentioned cessation tool is an e-cigarette (54%), followed by an online application or tool to quit smoking (30%). Most cigarettes sold in supermarkets are sold at a lower price than tobacco. The age limit for buying tobacco is 18, but nearly half (47%) of 16- and 17-year-old smokers report buying cigarettes themselves; boys (53%) outnumber girls (40%). Among 18-year-old students, the figure is 86%. Supermarkets are most often mentioned by 16- and 17-year-olds (10-14% respectively). This percentage is much higher for 18-year-olds: 57%. The gas pump is also mentioned less often by 16- (10%) and 17-year-olds (9%) than by 18-year-olds (17%), but this difference is not significant. Remarkably, the snack bar is mentioned significantly less often by 18-year-olds (0.5%) than by 16- (7%) and 17-year-olds (7%).

Smoking, e-cigarette and bong

Compared to 16-year-olds, MBO students smoked tobacco more often (once in their lifetime, last month and every day) and used an e-cigarette or bong more often. The use of the bong in the past month is also higher. MBO students also consistently score highest among 17- and 18-year-olds. The exception is the use of the bong in the last month, which is not significantly different between 17 year old VOs (11%) and MBOs (14%). It is also noticeable that HBO youth smoke less often on a daily basis (2%). HBO students also smoked a bong less frequently.

Trends since 2015

Smoking has not changed among MBO and HBO students since 2015. When broken down by age, there appears to be an increase among 16-year-olds and a decrease among 17- and 18-year-olds, but these differences are not significant. Current e-cigarette use has increased from 8% in 2015 to 12% in 2017. This increase is particularly noticeable among 18-year-olds, where current e-cigarette use increased from 7% to 11%.
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