Introduction: Awareness and use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) has increased dramatically. Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices deliver an aerosol comprised usually of water, propylene glycol and/or glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings. Scant research exists to evaluate the efficacy and safety of such devices, and only one quantitative survey of European users (N = 81) has been published. This qualitative study explores e-cig users' ("vapers") experiences.
Methods: Participants attended a convention or club meeting in St. Louis, MO, and were interviewed individually or in small groups. Qualitative methods were used to analyze interview data for both deductive and emergent themes to broad research questions.
Results: Even with a relatively small sample of formal participants (N = 15), there were pervasive themes including the language and culture of vaping; social and informational support among vapers and their use of Internet resources (learning about e-cigs); the learning curve to using e-cigs and the numerous modifications ("mods") available for e-cigs and personal vaporizers; motives and perceived benefits of using e-cigs versus cigarettes including cigarette-like enjoyment, cost, restored sense of taste and smell, and improved breathing and exercise tolerance; rapidly reduced nicotine tolerance and dependence; and a strong interest in e-cig-related research and policy.
Conclusions: The learning curve to using e-cigs has important implications for laboratory tests of these devices with novice users. Similarly, the multiple e-cig options and the use of "mods" create challenges for researchers and policy makers. Transdisciplinary research is urgently needed, and experienced "vapers" are very interested and willing research participants.