Rural-Urban Differences in Changes and Effects of Tobacco 21 in Youth E-cigarette Use.

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DOI: 10.1542/peds.2020-020651


Background: The prevalence of current electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use has increased dramatically among US youth. It is unknown how the impact of policies to curb e-cigarette use might differ across rural and urban areas.

Methods: Data were collected from an annual statewide survey of middle and high school students in Kansas. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to examine the temporal change in current e-cigarette use in 2018 and 2019 across rural and urban areas and across the areas with and without a Tobacco 21 (T21) policy that raises the minimum age of tobacco sales to 21 years.

Results: Of 132 803 participants, the prevalence of current e-cigarette use increased from 8.2% in 2018 to 12.6% in 2019. The increase was larger in rural areas (from 6.7% in 2018 to 13.4% in 2019, difference = 6.7%) than in urban areas (9.8%-11.9%, difference = 2.1%), with a significant interaction effect of year × urbanicity/T21 group (P < .0001). In urban areas, e-cigarette use increased significantly for middle school students in T21 areas (3.3%-4.5%; P = .01) and all students in non-T21 areas (8.1%-12.0%; P < .0001). In rural areas, the increase in e-cigarette use was significant in both T21 and non-T21 areas for all students, but the increase was smaller in T21 (7.9%-10.8%, difference = 3.0%) than in non-T21 areas (6.5%-13.7%, difference = 7.1%).

Conclusions: In this study, we reported marked disparities in the increase of youth e-cigarette use, with a larger recent increase in rural than in urban areas. T21 policies appear to mitigate these increases in both rural and urban youth.

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