A qualitative study of support provided by vape shops to people wanting to use e-cigarettes to quit smoking

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims: E-cigarettes are the most popular method of choice for smoking cessation in the UK and most e-cigarettes are bought in specialist vape shops (smokinginengland.info). Vape shops are the ‘frontline’ of smoking cessation advice for consumers who choose not to access stop smoking services, but the advice is not standardised and is unregulated. Research indicates that the interaction between vape shops and quitters may influence success (Notley et al, in progress; Polosa et al, 2015). This observational study explores how the shop experience contributes to smoking cessation and relapse prevention.

Method: Ethnographic observations of six selected shops in a range of urban/rural locations were undertaken with a researcher in situ, observing interactions between the shop staff and customers. Detailed field notes were taken commenting on setting, culture, and informal observations of advice giving episodes.

Results:  Rather than smoking cessation medical advice, attempts were made by shop staff to understand customers’ smoking preferences in order that advice could be tailored to the most appropriate device and e-liquid strength/flavour. Vape shops offered an ongoing point of contact and advice for continuing to vape, experimenting with products to suit individual needs, troubleshooting problems, offering practical help and maintenance, and providing important safety advice.

Conclusion:  Our study found that vape shops offer well-intentioned support from an ‘informed expert-by-experience’ perspective, but advice was variable and was not necessarily evidence based. The culture and social environment of the shops offered an identity related aspect to vaping that may support long-term smoking abstinence.

The paper this poster is derived from is now published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.


Dr Caitlin Notley, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, University of East Anglia Dr Sharon Cox, Research Fellow, London South Bank University Dr Lynne Dawkins, Associate Professor, London South Bank University Professor Richard Holland, Head of Leicester Medical School, University of Leicester

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest


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