E-cigarettes from the perspective of teenagers: Results of focus studies
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Gdansk Medical University, Gdansk, Poland
National Institute of Hygiene, National Institute of Public Health, Warsaw, Poland
Publication date: 2020-10-22
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(Supplement):A116
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Research shows that over 80% of smokers start their habit under the age of 18 years. A few years ago, young people undertook risky behaviours related to nicotine initiation mainly by smoking cigarettes. Today, next to traditional tobacco products, electronic cigarettes are becoming more and more popular. Due to the prevalence of new forms of nicotine addiction, modification of anti-tobacco prevention programs is required.

The purpose of the research was exploration–learning the opinions and attitudes of young people towards e-cigarettes.

The qualitative study was conducted using the FGI method (focus group interview). The meetings were moderated by specially trained psychologists. Forty-eight students participated in the meetings of six focus groups, divided by gender and smoking status (smokers/non-smokers). The participants were young people aged 15–19 years, attending high schools in Warsaw, Kielce, and Lublin.

In conversations, young people emphasized the impact of e-cigarettes in smoking initiation, which usually occurs at the age of 12–14 years. E-cigarettes are perceived as cigarettes ‘for younger’, non-addictive, less serious, and providing more entertainment. ‘Cloud chasing’ is particularly popular. They perform social functions and they help establish relationships. Teenagers do not see the harmfulness of e-cigarettes.
Participants mentioned their advantages over traditional tobacco products, they can be smoked everywhere and do not leave an unpleasant smell. Some of the respondents admitted to the simultaneous use of electronic and traditional cigarettes. Moreover, many parents allow children to smoke electronic cigarettes.

Vaping has become a natural way of relaxation and socialization for adolescents. E-cigarettes do not have such a negative connotation as traditional tobacco products. Young people do not see them as harmful, which is a challenge for effective preventive measures.

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