'I Felt Welcomed in Like They're a Little Family in There, I Felt Like I Was Joining a Team or Something': Vape Shop Customers' Experiences of E-Cigarette Use, Vape Shops and the Vaping Community.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 07 02; 16(13)IJ
Background: Specialist electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) shops, known as vape shops, provide access to a less harmful alternative to smoking. This study aimed to understand customers' experiences of vaping and vape shops, and the extent to which smoking cessation advice is and should be provided in these shops. Methods: We conducted telephone interviews with 22 customers recruited in vape shops in the East Midlands region of England. Interviews explored participants' smoking histories, reasons for using e-cigarettes, the role of vape shops in their e-cigarette use, and whether smoking cessation was discussed in vape shops. Interviews were analysed following framework approach principles. Results: Most respondents regarded e-cigarettes as a quitting tool and reported very positive experiences of vaping. Vape shops were central to participants' positive experiences, in that they provided access to a wide variety of high-quality products and reliable product information and advice. The shop staff engendered a sense of loyalty in customers which, together with the community of other vapers, created a network that helped to support e-cigarette use. Vape shops were not regarded as a setting in which cessation advice was generally provided but were acknowledged as potentially appropriate places to provide quitting support. Conclusions: Vape shops have the potential to play an important role in tobacco harm reduction, which could be increased if their service model were to extend to help smokers to quit.