A qualitative study of electronic cigarette use among young people in Ireland: Incentives, disincentives, and equivocal cessation
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Tobacco-Free Research Institute Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
Publication date: 2020-10-22
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(Supplement):A112
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Smoking prevalence in Ireland is falling in all age groups, but the prevalence of e-cigarette use is rising among young people. This qualitative study aims to explore and understand the factors associated with young people’s use of e-cigarettes.

Semi-structured individual and focus group interviews were conducted with young people aged 16–22 years. Participants were recruited from a higher education institution and youth organisations working with early school leavers across Dublin. In total, there were 62 participants in the study, consisting of 22 individual interviews and eight focus group interviews with 40 participants. Categoric and thematic data analysis was used to generate the findings.

Three themes emerged from the data analysis: incentivising and disincentivising factors, and ambivalent unsuccessful cessation. Incentivising factors included price, taste/flavours, and the possibility of indoor use. Disincentivising factors included adverse health effects (pain, discomfort, coughing, sore throat, headache), unpleasant physical effects (relating to bad taste and device faults), and over-consumption and ‘greater addictiveness’. Ambivalent cessation refers to the failure to quit by using e-cigarettes, leading to continued or resumed smoking of PMC/RYO; dual usage of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products; and inability to quit e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes were viewed as being less ‘denormalised’, in part at least because they could be used in indoor spaces where smoking is banned in Ireland.

While smoking cessation and reduction are important motivators for young people’s use of e-cigarettes, they report also that e-cigarettes cause adverse health effects; are more addictive and they have less control over the amount they consume; they are sceptical about their ‘purported relative healthiness’; have concerns about potential negative health effects of e-cigarette use; and are aware of many issues with the devices themselves. The regulation of e-cigarettes through the banning of indoor use should be considered by legislators and tobacco control policymakers.

S Keogan, E Breslin, K Taylor and K Babineau are acknowledged for the data collection, through Interviews and Focus Groups.
Royal City of Dublin Hospital Trust, Grant 184 gratefully acknowledged.
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