Author ORCID Identifier 0000-0002-8016-2266

Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Public and environmental health, Sociology, Social sciences

Publication Details

BMC Public Health 21, 1988 (2021). DOI: 10.1186/s12889-021-12113-9



E-cigarette ever-use and current-use among teenagers has increased worldwide, including in Ireland.


We use data from two Irish waves (2015, 2019) of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) to investigate gender and teenage e-cigarette use (n = 3421 16-year-olds). Using chi-square analyses, we report changes in e-cigarette ever-use, current-use, and associated variables. Using multivariable logistic regression, we analyse the increase in e-cigarette use and socio-demographic, personal, peer and familial associations, focusing on gender differences.


E-cigarette ever-use increased from 23% in 2015 to 37% in 2019, and current-use from 10 to 18%. Compared with 2015, the odds in 2019, of becoming both an e-cigarette ever-user and current-user, were significantly higher for girls than boys (ever-use: AOR 2.67 vs 2.04; current-use: AOR 3.11 vs 1.96). Smoking and e-cigarette use are linked but never-smokers who try e-cigarettes rose significantly from 33 to 67% and those using e-cigarettes to quit smoking decreased significantly from 17 to 3%. Almost two-thirds of respondents (66%) in 2019 said that their reason for trying e-cigarettes was “out of curiosity”. Peer smoking is significantly associated with likelihood of e-cigarette ever-use (AOR 6.52) and current-use (AOR 5.45). If “Most/All friends smoke”, odds were significantly higher for boys than for girls (ever-use AOR 7.07 vs 6.23; current-use AOR 5.90 vs 5.31). Less parental monitoring is significantly associated with greater e-cigarette ever-use (AOR 3.96) and current-use (4.48), and having parents who usually don’t know where their child is on Saturday nights was also associated with significantly higher odds for boys than for girls (ever-use AOR 5.42 vs 3.33; current-use AOR 5.50 vs 3.50).


Respondents had significantly higher odds of being e-cigarette ever- and current-users in 2019 compared with 2015. Use is higher among boys but girls are increasingly at risk. Two-thirds had never smoked cigarettes at first e-cigarette use; two-thirds used out of curiosity but few (3%) for smoking cessation. The most prominent risk factors for e-cigarette use were peer- and parent-related, especially so for boys. Interventions that take account of friend and family influences may provide mechanisms for preventing an increasing risk of nicotine addiction.



Department of Health, RCDHT Grant 184