Patterns of youth tobacco and polytobacco usage: The shift to alternative tobacco products

Paul T. Harrell, Syeda Mahrukh H. Naqvi, Andrew D. Plunk, Ming Ji, Silvia S. Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Despite significant declines in youth cigarette smoking, overall tobacco usage remains over 20% as non-cigarette tobacco product usage is increasingly common and polytobacco use (using 1+ tobacco product) remains steady. Objectives: The present study was designed to identify patterns of youth tobacco use and examine associations with sociodemographic characteristics and tobacco dependence. Methods: The current analysis uses Latent Class Analysis (LCA) to examine the 6,958 tobacco users (n = 2,738 female) in the National Youth Tobacco Survey (2012 and 2013). We used as indicators past month use of tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, hookah, snus, pipes, bidis, and kreteks) and regressed resulting classes on sociodemographic characteristics and tobacco dependence. Results: Nine classes emerged: cigarette smokers (33.4% of sample, also included small probabilities for use of cigars and e-cigarettes), cigar smokers (16.8%, nearly exclusive), smokeless tobacco users (12.3%, also included small probabilities for cigarettes, cigars, snus), hookah smokers (11.8%), tobacco smokers/chewers (10.7%, variety of primarily traditional tobacco products), tobacco/hookah smokers (7.2%), tobacco/snus/e-cig users (3.3%), e-cigarette users (2.9%,), and polytobacco users (1.7%, high probabilities for all products). Compared to cigarette smokers, tobacco/hookah smokers and hookah smokers were more likely to report Hispanic ethnicity. Polytobacco users were more likely to report dependence (AOR:2.77, 95% CI:[1.49–5.18]), whereas e-cigarette users were less likely (AOR:0.49, 95% CI:[0.24–0.97]).Conclusion: Findings are consistent with other research demonstrating shifts in adolescent tobacco product usage towards non-cigarette tobacco products. Continuous monitoring of these patterns is needed to help predict if this shift will ultimately result in improved public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-702
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • addiction
  • co-substance use
  • electronic nicotine delivery systems
  • priority/special populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Patterns of youth tobacco and polytobacco usage: The shift to alternative tobacco products'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this