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Does the time to nicotine dependence vary by internalizing symptoms for young people who use e-cigarettes? An analysis of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, (Waves 1-5; 2013-2019).

OBJECTIVE: To determine the relationship between past-year internalizing symptoms and the time to first report of signs of nicotine dependence among young people.

METHODS: Secondary analysis using data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) (Waves 1-5; 2013-2019). The study included 2,102 (N = 5,031,691) young people (age 12-23 years) who reported past-30-day (P30D) e-cigarette use in one or more waves. Kaplan Meier curves, stratified by past year internalizing symptoms were used to estimate the time to the first report of three nicotine dependence symptoms (i.e., use within 30 min of waking, cravings, and really needing to use) following the first P30D e-cigarette use. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate crude and adjusted hazard ratios (AHR), comparing any past year internalizing symptoms to no past year internalizing symptoms.

RESULTS: We found no significant differences between past year internalizing symptoms and the time to the first report of cravings (AHR = 1.30, 95 % CI = 92-1.85), really needing to use (AHR = 1.31; 95 % CI = 0.92-1.89) and use within 30 min of waking for follow-up times 0-156 weeks (AHR = 0.84; 95 % CI = 0.55-1.30) and > 156 weeks (AHR = 0.41; 95 % CI = 0.04-4.67) respectively.

CONCLUSION: Past year internalizing symptoms did not modify the time to the first report of nicotine dependence among youth with P30D e-cigarette use. Further research is needed to understand how changing internalizing symptoms and e-cigarette use frequency influence nicotine dependence over time and, how this relationship impacts cessation behavior.

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