E-cigarettes: Gateway to tobacco addiction among adolescents
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Salaam Bombay Foundation, Mumbai, India
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A48
Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are often a controversial product in tobacco control debates. Previous studies suggest that use of ENDS by youth in numerous countries is rampant, however very limited information on use and access is known for the Indian market.

Salaam Bombay Foundation (SBF) conducted cross-sectional study among Mumbai youth to assess the prevalence, knowledge and perceptions of youth about e-cigarettes.

This study was conducted using both quantitative and qualitative survey methods. Close ended self-administered paper and pencil survey was administered to 306 randomly selected youth followed by personal interviews of around 20 youth using interview schedule. The quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS and qualitative data was coded and analyzed using Microsoft Excel.

'Pen Hookah' was found to be common term for ENDS devices being sold in Mumbai. Out of 306 respondents 73.2% (n=224) admitted to be exposed to it. 33.5% (n=75) of exposed reported its ever use. Ever use (n=75) was higher among 20-25 years (52.7%) compared to 16-19 years (46.7%). Out of ever users, 46.3% (n=63) were males and 13.6% (n=12) were females. Only 20% (n=15) ever users of ENDS were current tobacco users. Participants in this survey reported that youth starts using ENDS out of curiosity and gradually turn towards traditional smoking tobacco products. Continued efforts of SBF and like-minded organizations using this data as evidence resulted in Government of India releasing an ordinance in September 2019 banning sale of e-cigarettes.

Worldwide, there is strong evidence that shows that e-cigarettes are gaining popularity among youth and acting as gateway to tobacco use among youth. Realizing its potential of being gateway to tobacco use and health harms, 25 countries have banned or restricted its use. Worldwide ban on e-cigarettes is the need of the hour to protect youth from falling prey to tobacco products.