Lucherini, M, Rooke, C and Amos, A (2017) "They're thinking, well it's not as bad, I probably won't get addicted to that. But it's still got the nicotine in it, so…": Maturity, control and socialising: Negotiating identities in relation to smoking and vaping. A qualitative study of young adults in Scotland. Nicotine and Tobacco Research. ISSN 1462-2203

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Objective: To explore the understandings of and engagement with e-cigarettes, of young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds, and how these may be impacting upon existing smoking identities. Methods: Twenty-two small group and 11 individual qualitative interviews conducted in Central Scotland with 72 16-24 year olds between September 2015 and April 2016. Participants were mostly smokers and ex-smokers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Results: While most participants had tried e-cigarettes, they generally held ambivalent views about e-cigarettes and vaping. Two overarching themes were identified which helped understand this. Firstly, e-cigarettes were understood by the participants in relation to their existing smoking identities. Vaping was viewed as less controllable and more addictive than smoking, which did not fit with their self-identity as controlled smokers. Secondly, they felt that vaping could not replace the social and cultural importance that smoking had in their lives. Conclusion: This study suggests that while young adults from disadvantaged areas are trying e-cigarettes for various reasons, vaping is rarely sustained. Through their own experiences of vaping and their observations of others vaping, the participants perceive the behaviour as endangering an existing acceptable and controlled smoking identity. Additionally, e-cigarettes were considered to be a jarring presence in existing social situations were smoking was valued. This study therefore provides insights into how young adults may be rationalising their continued smoking in the face of potentially less harmful alternatives. Implications: As new and novel nicotine delivery devices, and due to their similarity to smoking, e-cigarettes have the potential to help smokers in their quit attempts. However, the findings from this study raise questions about whether e-cigarettes are regarded as having this potential by young adult smokers from disadvantaged socio-economic environments where smoking is more commonplace and acceptable.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: nicotine; smoking; scotland; young adult; electronic cigarettes; vaping
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2018 13:33
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2018 13:33

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