E-liquid flavours are perhaps the most materially disruptive aspect of vaping compared with smoking, especially for people who smoke and who wish to quit. Understanding how e-liquid flavours create personal and social value for people who smoke may offer new insights into vaping’s evolution as a social practice and its potential role in achieving smokefree goals.
We drew on longitudinal in-depth interviews with 11 New Zealand young adults (19–29 years old) who smoked tobacco and were willing to use an e-cigarette as they tried to stop smoking. We interviewed each participant five times over 18–24 weeks during 2018–2019; at each interview, we asked about their e-liquid flavour use, and perceptions and experiences of these flavours compared to smoking. We thematically analysed the transcripts and explored tensions between old and new skills, meanings, and emotions associated with smoking, vaping, and e-liquid flavours.
We found that flavours could disrupt tobacco’s value proposition by provoking responses that affected participants’ emotional security when vaping. Competence to deal with initially unsettling feelings when vaping helped participants reorient meanings and emotions, and embedded vaping in their lives. As e-liquids are purchased regularly, and flavours ideally sampled in-person, countries could optimise vaping regulations by limiting online sales and mandating cessation advice and support at all point-of-sale interactions.
You can read the full publication here.