2020

Study shows surge in e-cigarette and marijuana use among state’s young adults


UCLA FSPH researchers led by professor Ninez Ponce, found an alarming 48% of e-cigarette users and 40% of marijuana users are underage.

person smoking

The use of marijuana and electronic cigarettes jumped dramatically among young adult Californians between 2017 and 2018, with large proportions of users of both products being underage, according to a new study by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health's UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The study, which highlights smoking trends among individuals between the ages of 18 and 25, shows that e-cigarette vaping surged by 48% over that period, while marijuana use increased by 19%. Cigarette smoking, which had been declining for a decade, saw no significant change. The authors also suggest several policy approaches to respond to the changing smoking landscape.

“Smoking is and has always been a concern in the public health community and beyond, and young adults are particularly at risk for harm and addiction,” said Ninez Ponce, professor of health policy and management and the study's co-author. “The findings suggest steps such as enforcing the existing laws in retail settings and using targeted education and cessation tools among young adults to raise their awareness and quit rates. We need to work together to make these products less desirable, acceptable and accessible among the 4.6 million young adults residing in California.”

Using data from the center’s 2018 California Health Interview Survey, researchers found that more than a third of young adults — or 1.7 million — were currently using at least one, and sometimes more, of these products, with 314,000 reporting smoking cigarettes, 682,000 using e-cigarettes and 1.3 million using marijuana. Flavors were popular among young adults, with 4 of 5 e-cigarette users vaping flavored products and 2 in 5 cigarette users smoking menthol cigarettes.

Another key finding of the study was that 48% of these e-cigarette users, 40% of marijuana users and 28% of cigarette smokers were between the ages 18 to 20 — under the legal age-limit of 21 to purchase tobacco products and marijuana in 2018.

“Although the state and local governments have made massive strides in tobacco control policy, our research underscores the importance of considering laws that affect access to all three products together,” said Ying-Ying Meng, the study’s lead author and co-director of the Center for Health Policy Research’s chronic disease program. “Policies are needed to discourage young adults from switching from one product to another due to differences in price, access and availability.”

The data also supports the need to ensure that tobacco control policies are equitably applied throughout California’s diverse communities, the researchers said. In addition to state policies, California cities and counties have the legal authority to enact smoking, vaping and marijuana-use policies, and the authors recommend a combination of such actions, including:

  • Enacting price policies, such as e-cigarette taxes and minimum floor prices.
  • Banning all flavored nicotine products.
  • Implementing smoke-free policies in various outdoor areas and in multiunit housing that explicitly include e-cigarettes and marijuana.
  • Capping or limiting the number of retailers of these products by geographic areas.

Written by Elaiza Torralba

Faculty Referenced by this Article

Dr. Ninez Ponce
Ninez Ponce
Health Policy and Management
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Isomi Miake-Lye
Isomi Miake-Lye
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Frederick Zimmerman
Frederick Zimmerman
Health Policy and Management
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Ron D. Hays
Ron D. Hays

@UCLA since 1997

Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Alice Kuo
Alice Kuo
Health Policy and Management
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Alan Tomines
Health Policy and Management
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Corrina Moucheraud
Corrina Moucheraud
Health Policy and Management
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Jose J. Escarce
Health Policy and Management
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Barbara Berman
Health Policy and Management
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Clifford Ko
Clifford Ko
Health Policy and Management
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Jack Needleman
Jack Needleman
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Dylan Roby
Dylan Roby
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Lillian Gelberg
Lillian Gelberg
Health Policy and Management
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James Macinko
James Macinko

Professor of Community Health Sciences & Health Policy and Management, and Associate Dean for Research

Community Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Risha Gidwani
Risha Gidwani
Health Policy and Management
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Mark Litwin
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Jennifer Wortham
Jennifer Wortham
Health Policy and Management
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Olivia Jung
Olivia Jung
Health Policy and Management
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Aronberg, Sandra
Sandra Aronberg
Health Policy and Management
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Nadereh Pourat
Nadereh Pourat
Health Policy and Management
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Freund, Deborah
Deborah Anne Freund
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Thomas Rice
Thomas Rice
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Joann Elmore
Joann G. Elmore
Health Policy and Management
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Patricia Ganz
Patricia Ganz
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Samuel Sessions
Samuel Sessions
Health Policy and Management
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Jean Balgrosky
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. John Lu
Z. John Lu
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Anthony Schiff
Anthony Hunter Schiff
Health Policy and Management
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Robert Brook
Health Policy and Management
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Annette Maxwell
Health Policy and Management
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Yusuke Tsugawa
Yusuke Tsugawa
Health Policy and Management
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Vickie Mays
Vickie Mays
Health Policy and Management
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Emmeline Chuang
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Aria Fallah
Aria Fallah
Health Policy and Management
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Robert Kaplan
Robert Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Thomas D. Gordon
Health Policy and Management
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Burt Cowgill
Burt Cowgill
Health Policy and Management
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Pamela Davidson
Health Policy and Management
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Lori Pelliccioni
Health Policy and Management
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Galper, Michael
Michael Galper
Health Policy and Management
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Rosenstock
Linda Rosenstock
Environmental Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Neal Halfon
Health Policy and Management
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Moira Inkelas
Moira Inkelas
Health Policy and Management
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Ty Robbins
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Xi Zhu
Xi Zhu
Health Policy and Management
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Emily Abel
Emily Abel
Health Policy and Management
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Michelle Keller
Michelle S. Keller

Dr. Michelle S. Keller is a health services researcher whose research focuses on the use and prescribing of high-risk medications.

Health Policy and Management
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Jody Heymann
Jody Heymann
Epidemiology Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Paul Fu, Jr.
Paul Fu, Jr.
Health Policy and Management
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Warren Scott Comulada
Warren Scott Comulada
Health Policy and Management
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Ron Andersen

Dr. Ron Andersen is the Wasserman Professor Emeritus in the UCLA Departments of Health Policy and Management.

Health Policy and Management
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Kadiyala, Srikanth
Srikanth Kadiyala
Health Policy and Management
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Jeanne Miranda
Jeanne Miranda
Health Policy and Management
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Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Health Policy and Management
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Brennan Spiegel
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Beth Glenn
Beth Glenn
Health Policy and Management
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Susan Ettner
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Kenneth Wells
Kenneth Wells
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Yvonne Flores
Yvonne Flores
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Jonathan Fielding
Jonathan Fielding
Health Policy and Management
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Roshan Bastani
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Felicia Hodge
Felicia Hodge
Health Policy and Management
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Michael Ong
Michael Ong
Health Policy and Management
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Diana Hilberman
Diana Hilberman
Health Policy and Management
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Thomas Priselac
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Stephanie Taylor
Stephanie L. Taylor

Nationally recognized health services researcher and sociomedical scientist with 25+ years' experience in effectiveness and implementation research.

Health Policy and Management
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Avram Kaplan
Avram Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. William McCarthy
William J. McCarthy
Health Policy and Management
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Laura Erskine
Laura Erskine
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Daniel Eisenberg
Health Policy and Management
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Comanor, Bill
William Comanor
Health Policy and Management
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Paul Chung
Paul Chung
Health Policy and Management
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Steven Teutsch
Health Policy and Management
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Mangione, C
Carol Mangione
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Kristen Choi
Kristen Choi
Health Policy and Management
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David Hayes-Bautista
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Naomi Zewde
Naomi Zewde
Health Policy and Management
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Leah Vriesman
Leah Vriesman
Health Policy and Management
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Julie A. Elginer

EMPH Academic Program Director with expertise in healthcare marketing, finance, and reproductive health policy, teaching in the EMPH, MPH, MHA program

Health Policy and Management
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Gerald Kominski
Gerald Kominski
Health Policy and Management
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Arlene Fink
Health Policy and Management
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