Electronic Cigarette Use Among Secondary School Students in Québec: 2012-2013

Electronic cigarettes are new devices with which users mimic the gestures and produce the feeling of smoking without exposing themselves to the toxic by-products of tobacco combustion. While many experts consider them to be a less harmful alternative for smokers' health than conventional cigarettes, others are concerned that they could renormalize smoking and provide a gateway to conventional cigarettes for young people.

This study is one of the first to assess electronic cigarette use among secondary school students in Québec.

The findings indicate that most students have heard of electronic cigarettes. In 2012-2013, 34% of secondary school students had ‘ever used' electronic cigarettes and approximately 6% had used them in the past 30 days. These estimates are high compared with those in the United States and suggest that youth in Québec have access to this product. Almost one third of secondary school students who had never tried electronic cigarettes did not rule out the possibility of doing so in the future.

While this study does not indicate whether electronic cigarette use causes youth to start smoking, it shows us that it is important to document the possible influence of this new product on smoking initiation.

The data come from the 2012-2013 Youth Smoking Survey (YSS) and the insert questionnaire added and funded by the Canadian Cancer Society – Quebec Division, which includes questions on electronic cigarette awareness and use.

Annie Montreuil
Ph. D., chercheuse établissement, Institut national de santé publique du Québec
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