Tobacco use, which typically begins in adolescence (10-19 years), remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and costs over $300 billion per year. Although traditional tobacco use among adolescents has declined substantially since the mid-1990s, adolescent use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS, such as e-cigarettes or vaping pens) has risen dramatically and carries significant health risks due to the toxins and carcinogens it contains. Additionally, adolescents who use ENDS are at greater risk for using conventional cigarette products tobacco products, and can use the delivery systems for marijuana.
Thirty-one percent of the Latinx population in the United States is under 18 years of age. They are the fastest growing demographic in the United States and report higher rates of ENDS use than youth from other racial/ethnic groups. However, reasons for this disparity are poorly understood. As such, the proposed project addresses a critical gap in the in the field; namely it seeks to identify factors that account for the elevated rates of ENDS use among Latino adolescents.
The long-term goal of this project is to reduce disparities in ENDS use and negative health outcomes affecting Latinx youth. The current study aims to identify risk and protective factors for ENDS use among Latinx adolescent populations. This age range is targeted because it is a sensitive period for reducing risk for ENDS use and other substance use, which increases significantly by mid-adolescence. Ultimately, the significance of this project lies in its potential to impact the disparity in ENDS use rates of Latinx youth.
We will use a combination of primary and secondary data sources to achieve our study aims. Our secondary data sources for analyses will include three existing school-based surveys that assess ENDS use among different populations of adolescents in Texas and provide unique strengths and contributions to achieving our study aims. Using data from multiple settings across multiple years is a strength of our approach in that it will offer a comprehensive, population-level snapshot of trends in adolescent ENDS use in Texas and provide important results that can help us to further refine our approach to examining cultural and contextual factors.
The knowledge gained from this study has significant public health relevance, both in terms of targeting interventions for the prevention of ENDS use and initiation among youth at the individual, community, and policy levels. In addition, findings will lead to novel culturally relevant knowledge of determinants implicated in processes of ENDS use among Latinx youth.