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      Vaping cannabis among adolescents: prevalence and associations with tobacco use from a cross-sectional study in the USA

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          Previous research suggests that some adolescents are using e-cigarette devices to vaporise (‘vaping’) cannabis in the form of hash oil, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) wax or oil, or dried cannabis buds or leaves. However, it is unclear how adolescents who vape cannabis use other tobacco products. This study examined the extent to which adolescents reported ever vaping cannabis and investigated how demographic variables and tobacco behaviours were associated with use.


          We used cross-sectional data from adolescents (total response rate 64.5%) who participated in the 2017 North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey. SAS logistic regression survey procedures were used to account for the complex survey design and sampling weights.


          North Carolina, USA.


          Adolescents in high school (n=2835).

          Primary outcome and measure

          Adolescents were asked to indicate whether they had ever used an e-cigarette device with marijuana, THC or hash oil, or THC wax.


          Approximately 1 in 10 high school students reported ever vaping cannabis in the overall sample (9.6%). In multivariable models, adolescents who reported using cigars (adjusted OR (aOR) 3.76, 95% CI 2.33 to 6.07), waterpipe (aOR 2.32, 95% CI 1.37 to 3.93) or e-cigarettes (aOR 3.18, 95% CI 2.38 to 4.25) in the past 30 days had higher odds of reporting ever vaping cannabis compared with their counterparts. There was no significant association between use of smokeless tobacco (aOR 0.89, 95% CI 0.42 to 1.91) or use of cigarettes (aOR 1.27, 95% CI 0.71 to 2.29) in the past 30 days and odds of reporting ever vaping cannabis.


          These findings provide evidence that large numbers of high school students who use tobacco products have vaped cannabis. As tobacco control policies—such as communication campaigns or smoke-free laws—increasingly focus on e-cigarettes, attention to understanding how adolescents use e-cigarettes to vape substances other than nicotine is essential.

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          Most cited references 12

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          Toking, Vaping, and Eating for Health or Fun: Marijuana Use Patterns in Adults, U.S., 2014.

          Policies legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use have been increasing in the U.S. Considering the potential impact of these policies, important knowledge gaps exist, including information about the prevalence of various modes of marijuana use (e.g., smoked in joints, bowls, bongs; consumed in edibles or drinks) and about medical versus recreational use. Accordingly, this study assessed (1) prevalence and correlates of modes of current and ever marijuana use and (2) prevalence of medicinal and recreational marijuana use in U.S. adults.
            • Record: found
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            Developing public health regulations for marijuana: lessons from alcohol and tobacco.

            Until November 2012, no modern jurisdiction had removed the prohibition on the commercial production, distribution, and sale of marijuana for nonmedical purposes-not even the Netherlands. Government agencies in Colorado and Washington are now charged with granting production and processing licenses and developing regulations for legal marijuana, and other states and countries may follow. Our goal is not to address whether marijuana legalization is a good or bad idea but, rather, to help policymakers understand the decisions they face and some lessons learned from research on public health approaches to regulating alcohol and tobacco over the past century.
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              Vaping cannabis (marijuana): parallel concerns to e-cigs?

              The proliferation of vaporization ('vaping') as a method for administering cannabis raises many of the same public health issues being debated and investigated in relation to e-cigarettes (e-cigs). Good epidemiological data on the prevalence of vaping cannabis are not yet available, but with current trends towards societal approval of medicinal and recreational use of cannabis, the pros and cons of vaping cannabis warrant study. As with e-cigs, vaping cannabis portends putative health benefits by reducing harm from ingesting toxic smoke. Indeed, vaping is perceived and being sold as a safer way to use cannabis, despite the lack of data on the health effects of chronic vaping. Other perceived benefits include better taste, more efficient and intense effects and greater discretion which allows for use in more places. Unfortunately, these aspects of vaping could prompt an increased likelihood of trying cannabis, earlier age of onset, more positive initial experiences, and more frequent use, thereby increasing the probability of problematic use or addiction. Sales and marketing of vaping devices with no regulatory guidelines, especially related to advertising or product development targeting youth, parallels concerns under debate related to e-cigs and youth. Thus, the quandary of whether or not to promote vaping as a safer method of cannabis administration for those wishing to use cannabis, and how to regulate vaping and vaping devices, necessitates substantial investigation and discussion. Addressing these issues in concert with efforts directed towards e-cigs may save time and energy and result in a more comprehensive and effective public health policy on vaping.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                13 June 2019
                : 9
                : 6
                [1 ] departmentFamily Medicine , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
                [2 ] departmentLineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
                [3 ] departmentSchool of Nursing , Zefat Academic College , Zefat, Israel
                [4 ] departmentEpidemiology , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
                [5 ] departmentBehavioral Health Research Division , RTI International , Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
                [6 ] North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch , Raleigh, USA
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Sarah D Kowitt; kowitt@
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

                Funded by: The National Cancer Institute and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
                Smoking and Tobacco
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                paediatrics, public health, epidemiology


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