Background There is widespread concern about youth uptake of electronic cigarettes. Regulation and education campaigns exist which aim to protect children from initiating use, yet it is likely that children will be primarily influenced by the vaping/smoking behaviour of people in their immediate environment. This is the first known study exploring e-cigarette users’ views and reported experiences of vaping around children.
Methods Following informed consent, semi-structured qualitative interviews with adults recruited from England, who had attempted to give up smoking by vaping, were conducted as part of a wider study into e-cigarette use trajectories and smoking relapse (ECtra study). Data relating to vaping around children were extracted from 28 interviews and thematically analysed taking a secondary data analysis approach.
Results Analysis indicated that vaping behaviour in the presence of children in public appeared to be governed by replicating smoking norms, whilst vaping in the home appeared to be determined by caregivers’ need to reconcile vaping behaviour so that it was congruent with parental identity as responsible caregiver. Participant perspectives reflected existing diametrically opposed moral discourses applied to e-cigarette use of ‘harm reduction for smokers’ and ‘potential for youth harm’.
Conclusion Vaping is being role modelled within the community and home, despite attempts to hide the behaviour by many e-cigarette users. The ambivalent contextualisation of e-cigarettes means that e-cigarette users may lack a clear narrative to draw on when discussing vaping with children. Public Health guidance for vaping around children, including discussing vaping in the context of smoking cessation, could be helpful.
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