A qualitative study was carried out with the objective of documenting the experiences, knowledge, and representations of young people regarding electronic cigarettes.
Subjects and methods
The growth of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), or electronic cigarettes, has prompted regulation concerns among policy makers, although little is known about the short- and long-term public health consequences of e-cigarette use. We conducted 52 individual interviews with adolescents aged 15–17 from February to July 2018. The sample included teenagers from two different regions of France, of various habitation sizes, females and males, and tobacco smokers/non-smokers. The interviews were carried out by two anthropologists. The data were collected and analyzed according to the methodology of the anchored theory.
The study demonstrated that 79% of 15–17-year-olds have admitted to already trying electronic nicotine delivery systems due to the influence of their peers, to feel integrated in the group, to enjoy the vapour and play with it. Most of the teens stopped usage after this experience. The majority of participants showed little or no knowledge of the composition of the electronic nicotine delivery systems. Many of them expressed doubts about its safety, unsure that the health effects were less harmful than those of traditional tobacco cigarettes. The adolescents also indicated that they would be more inclined to smoke tobacco compared to e-cigarettes.
Young people remain convinced of the role of the traditional cigarette as a factor of social integration in their peer group.