An analysis of e-cigarette and polysubstance use patterns of adolescents in Bangkok, Thailand

November 2021

Bang-on Thepthien, Chit Su Tinn, Takuma Ofuchi, and Bee Kim Source: Tobacco Induced Diseases

The prevalence of adolescent e-cigarette use has increased markedly in recent years. Specifically, the prevalence of e-cigarette use over the past 30 days was higher than the prevalence of use of other tobacco products. However, there is no definitive data on e-cigarette use among adolescents, including a description of how e-cigarette use is part of a more widespread pattern of substance abuse. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of e-cigarette use in combination with tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana, and the risk of polysubstance use among a sample of Thai adolescents, analyzed by sociodemographic characteristics.

Data were extracted from the Bangkok Behavioral Surveillance Survey (BBSS) cross-sectional survey conducted in 2019. The survey used selfreports from a sample of adolescents aged 14–17 years in Bangkok (n=6167). Multinomial logistic regression was used to determine the status of poly drug use in combination with e-cigarettes.

In all, 6.8% of adolescents in this sample reported having used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Among the students who used e-cigarettes, the majority (72.0%) reported using other substances along with e-cigarettes, and alcohol was the most common addictive substance used in combination with e-cigarette use. The use of e-cigarettes only and e-cigarettes in combination with other addictive substances (compared to the non-e-cigarette group) tended to be higher among male students, having low academic achievement, having a friend who smokes, being persuaded by a close friend, having ever had sex (OR: 1.48–3.70), and having close friends who drink alcohol (vs none) (OR=3.26).

Polysubstance use is highly prevalent among adolescents who use e-cigarettes. There should be extensive screening for e-cigarette consumption, including use of other addictive substances, especially alcohol. Early and comprehensive prevention efforts to reduce the use of e-cigarettes and other addictive substances can have a huge impact on the health of the adolescent population.