Home > A qualitative study of e-cigarette use among young people in Ireland: Incentives, disincentives, and putative cessation.

Hanafin, Joan and Clancy, Luke (2020) A qualitative study of e-cigarette use among young people in Ireland: Incentives, disincentives, and putative cessation. PLoS ONE, 15, (12), e0244203. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0244203.

External website: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.13...

BACKGROUND: Smoking prevalence in Ireland is falling in all age groups, but e-cigarette use is rising among young people. This qualitative study explores young people's accounts of e-cigarette use in Ireland.

METHODS: Semi-structured individual (22) and focus group (8) interviews were conducted with 62 young people aged 18-22 years, recruited from a higher-education institution and youth organisations working with early school-leavers across Dublin. All were smokers or ex-smokers; 41 had tried e-cigarettes, 11 continued as dual users. We identified themes using thematic data analysis.

RESULTS: Three broad themes were identified: incentivising features, disincentivising features, and ambivalent and unsuccessful cessation, named putative smoking cessation. Incentivising features included price, pleasing taste/ flavours, and the possibility of indoor use. Disincentivising features related to adverse health effects (pain, discomfort, sore throat, coughing, headache) and unpleasant physical effects (bad taste, problems resulting from device faults). Other disincentives were over-consumption arising from inability to control intake, "greater addictiveness", product taste, and device faults. Putative cessation refers to the conflict between participants' expected use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation/reduction aid and their observed reality of e-cigarettes' failure in this regard, with reported outcomes including: failure to quit or reduce; continued or resumed cigarette and/or roll-your-own smoking; dual use of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products; and inability to quit e-cigarettes.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants were sceptical about e-cigarettes' "purported relative healthiness", concerned about addictiveness and potential long-term health consequences, and critically aware of advertising and industry strategies. E-cigarettes were viewed as being less denormalised, in part because they could be used in indoor spaces where smoking is banned in Ireland. Although price, taste, and perceived renormalisation were important motivators for young people's use of e-cigarettes, they wanted to quit smoking. The regulation of e-cigarettes through age restriction of access, licensing of outlets, pricing, point of sale and advertising restrictions as well as through the banning of indoor use should be considered by legislators and tobacco control policymakers.

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