A typology of vaping: Identifying differing beliefs, motivations for use, identity and political interest amongst e-cigarette users
International Journal of Drug Policy
Crown Copyright © 2017 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Reason for embargo
Background: The aim of this study was to identify and differentiate socially shared accounts of e-cigarette use (vaping) using Q-methodology, combining factor analysis with qualitative comments. Methods: Seventy statements on e-cigarettes, drawn from media, academic and online discussions, were sorted by participants along a continuum of agreement/disagreement, commenting on strongly ranked items. Each participant thus created their own ‘account’ of their vaping. A by-person correlation matrix of the sorts was conducted, then factor analysed, to identify similar accounts (p<0.01). Fifty-five UK vapers participated by post, 55% male, mean age of 46, 84% only vaping/16% vaping and smoking, 95% vaping daily. Results: Three accounts of e-cigarettes were identified. The first two were associated with having quit smoking; the third with ongoing tobacco smoking and vaping. In Factor One, ‘Vaping as Pleasure’, vaping was characterized as enjoyable, with long-term use envisaged and a medical model of vaping rejected. Factor One participants also held a strong vaping identity and were politically motivated to maintain the rights of adults to vape. In Factor Two, ‘Vaping as Medical Treatment’, vaping was understood as a pragmatic choice about how to medicate one’s smoking addiction, with the aim being to treat and ultimately reduce nicotine dependence. In Factor Three, ‘Ambivalent E-Cigarette Use’, participants reported fewer benefits and harboured more negative beliefs about e-cigarettes; they also strongly rejected a vaper identity, having no interest in online forums or being labelled a ‘vaper’ themselves. Conclusion: The UK e-cigarette users in this sample were not a homogeneous group; differing in their beliefs, motivations for use, identity and political interest. In particular they diverged on whether they accepted a medicalized account of vaping and identified as a vaper. Public health messages targeted to one group of e-cigarette users may not resonate with others.
This work was funded by the University of Exeter research allowance.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 48, pp. 81-90