Youth’s engagement and perceptions of disposable e-cigarettes: a UK focus group study



Smith M, MacKintosh AM, Ford A & Hilton S (2023) Youth’s engagement and perceptions of disposable e-cigarettes: a UK focus group study. BMJ Open.

Objectives: Evidence suggests that use of flavoured disposable electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is increasing. Considering the growing popularity and rapid evolution of e-cigarettes, we explored youth's perceptions and engagement with disposable e-cigarettes. Design: Twenty focus groups were conducted between March and May 2022, with 82 youths aged 11-16 living in the Central belt of Scotland. Methods: Youths were asked about smoking and vaping behaviours and disposable e-cigarettes and were shown vaping-related images and videos from social media which were used to stimulate discussion about different messages, presentations, and contextual features. Transcripts were imported into NVivo 12, coded thematically, and analysed. Results: Youths described disposable e-cigarettes as ‘cool’, ‘fashionable’, and enticing and viewed as a modern lifestyle ‘accessory’. Tank models were perceived as being used by older adults. Youths stated that disposable e-cigarettes were designed in a way to target youths and the brightly coloured devices and range of flavourings encouraged youths to want to try the products, particularly sweet flavourings. Participants perceived e-cigarettes to be less harmful compared to combustible cigarettes but noted the uncertainty of ingredients in disposable e-cigarettes. Conclusions: Youths distinguish between e-cigarettes with varying characteristics and social perceptions of users. These findings provide evidence that disposable e-cigarettes are attractive to youths. Future research is needed to understand the factors that contribute to youth perceptions of disposable e-cigarettes. Policymakers should work together to design and implement policies and strategies to prevent youth uptake of vaping.

health policy

Output Status: Forthcoming

BMJ Open

FundersCRUK Cancer Research UK
Date accepted by journal03/03/2023

People (2)


Dr Allison Ford

Dr Allison Ford

Associate Professor, Institute for Social Marketing

Ms Anne Marie MacKintosh

Ms Anne Marie MacKintosh

Senior Researcher, Institute for Social Marketing

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