Introduction: Cigarette use is associated with substance use and mental health problems among youth, but associations are unknown for non-cigarette tobacco product use, as well as the increasingly common poly-tobacco use.
Methods: The current study examined co-occurrence of substance use and mental health problems across tobacco products among 13,617 youth aged 12-17 years from Wave 1 (2013-2014) of the nationally representative Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. Participants self-reported ever cigarette, e-cigarette, smokeless tobacco, traditional cigar, cigarillo, filtered cigar, hookah, and other tobacco product use; alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs; and lifetime substance use, internalizing and externalizing problems.
Results: In multivariable regression analyses, use of each tobacco product was associated with substance use, particularly cigarillos and marijuana (AOR = 18.9, 95% CI: 15.3-23.4). Cigarette (AOR = 14.7, 95% CI: 11.8-18.2) and cigarillo (AOR = 8.1, 95% CI: 6.3-10.3) use were strongly associated with substance use problems and tobacco users were more likely to report internalizing (AOR = 1.6, 95% CI: 1.4-1.8) and externalizing (AOR = 1.4, 95% CI: 1.3-1.6) problems. Female tobacco users were more likely to have internalizing problems than male tobacco users. Poly-tobacco users were more likely than exclusive users to use substances (AOR = 3.4, 95% CI: 2.7-4.3) and have mental health (AOR = 1.2, 95% CI: 1.0-1.5) and substance use (AOR = 4.7, 95% CI: 3.4-6.6) problems.
Conclusions: Regardless of the tobacco product used, findings reveal high co-occurrence of substance use and mental health problems among youth tobacco users, especially poly-tobacco users. These findings suggest the need to address comorbidities among high risk youth in prevention and treatment settings.