Vape shop retailers’ perceptions of their customers, products and services: A content analysis
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University of Southern California, United States
Children's Hospital Los Angeles, United States
Submission date: 2016-01-27
Final revision date: 2017-04-07
Acceptance date: 2017-04-09
Publication date: 2017-05-11
Corresponding author
Jennifer Yo-ka Tsai   

University of Southern California, 2001 N. Soto Street, 3rd Floor 312-25, 90089 Los Angeles, United States
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2016;2(Supplement):3
The popularity of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has spurred the growth of vape shops, but little is known about the retailers who may play an important role in the introduction and dissemination of vape products. In this paper we examine how retailers profile their customers and their perceptions of vaping, and the services their shops provide.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of retailers (n=77) located across southern California. Open-ended questions were coded and analyzed using a content analysis approach.

Three themes emerged from the content analysis: who vapes, why people vape, and the vape shop environment. Retailers profiled customers as friendly, health conscious, and interested in tobacco cessation or cessation maintenance. Retailers believed e-cigarettes were used recreationally or as products that help curb other addictive behaviors. While most retailers reported positive experiences with vaping, some reported potentially negative experiences including failed cessation attempts, dual use of e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes, and increased nicotine dependence. Retailers reported that they regularly answer questions about vaping and believe their shops function as social lounges that are tied to other recreational activities.

Retailers attach certain characteristics to their clientele, perceive certain health benefits associated with vaping, and seek to establish their shops as places that provide guidance on vape products as well as shops with a recreational aesthetic. As vape shops grow in popularity, additional research on, and regulation of, these retailers will be necessary. Education campaigns are needed to inform retailers of the benefits and consequences of vaping.

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