E-cigarette policy and practice: what do vapers think?

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


This project aims to investigate the psychosocial and regulatory dimensions of electronic cigarette use (known as vaping) from the perspective of users/vapers. The rapid adoption of vaping across the world and dynamic nature of the e-cigarette industry has presented a dilemma for the public health community; dividing between those urging caution (due to safety/renormalization fears) with others pointing to the harm reduction potential. What do vapers themselves think?


Mixed method. Q-methodology (a hybrid method combining factor analysis with qualitative interpretation) is used to identity different ‘viewpoints’ within the vaping community. Open-ended questions also covered a range of policy choices; these have been analysed thematically.


Current e-cigarette users/vapers from the UK aged over 18 (n=70).


A Q-set of items for sorting was developed and piloted for this study from literature/online discussion. Policy and demographic questions were generated from existing surveys.


Initial findings indicate that there are divergent understandings of vaping, particularly the extent to which vapers identify with a medical model of vaping as treating nicotine addiction. In relation to policy, participants are broadly supportive of measures to restrict use to adults, but not of blanket restrictions on vaping in public places.  Resistance to perceived restriction is also identified e.g. the re-emergence of a discourse about ‘the right to vape’ and behaviours such as ‘stealth vaping’ (vaping when banned/restrictions are unclear).


Considering users’ perspectives is important; regulation that proceeds without doing this may be difficult to implement, especially given an online and international marketplace.


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Ms. Hannah Farrimond