Background: Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is rapidly increasing among adults in the U.S. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore consumer perceptions about e-cigarettes, including knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and perceived social norms.
Methods: A total of 14 focus groups (N=116) were conducted with current adult e-cigarette users in five U.S. cities from March through May, 2014. Focus groups were segmented by age (young adults aged 18-29 and older adults aged 30 and older) as well as by e-cigarette use status (exclusive e-cigarette users and non-exclusive e-cigarette users). Focus group discussions lasted approximately 60-min and were audio-recorded and transcribed; data were analyzed using a phenomenological approach.
Results: Participants expressed many positive attitudes towards e-cigarettes and simultaneously reported a lack of information and knowledge about the products. Focus group participants overwhelmingly felt as though the ingredients of e-cigarettes were likely less harmful than conventional cigarettes. Additionally, many described positive reactions from family and friends, especially when e-cigarettes were used in place of conventional cigarettes.
Conclusions: Findings from this qualitative study provide insight into consumer knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about e-cigarettes increasing our understanding of why and how they are being used. Such information will help provide insight into the potential public health impact of these emerging products.
Keywords: Electronic cigarettes; Qualitative research; Tobacco use.
Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.