Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs towards e-cigarettes among e-cigarettes users and stop smoking advisors in South East England: a qualitative study

First published: 29/03/2019 | Last updated: May 20th, 2019

Mrs Nancy Tamimi

PhD student

I have a Bachelor Degree in Dentistry and an MSc in Dental Public Health. I have gained experience in research engaging health service users, health and higher education personnel; experience in teaching, supervision and facilitation; experience in working in higher education and I am an Associate Fellow at the Higher Education Academy. Currently, I am completing my PhD in Medical Sociology at Brunel University London. I have a particular interest in tobacco control, oral health, inequalities in health and e-cigarettes. I am also interested in doing more qualitative and quantitative research on e-cigarette use.

Aims  To explore how are e-cigarettes perceived by the e-cigarettes users and Stop Smoking Advisors (SSAs), what are the risks and benefits they associate with e-cigarettes and how do these understandings shape participants’ attitude towards e-cigarettes. Design  Face to face and phone semi-structured interviews to elicit perspectives on e-cigarettes. Setting  SE England, UK. Participants  Fifteen e-cigarettes users and 13 SSAs. Measurements  Audio recorded data transcribed verbatim, coded systematically and analysed inductively. Findings  Ambiguity about e-cigarettes’ status, efficacy and potential health and social risk was a prominent theme. E-cigarettes were viewed and used as a medicine and a smoking substitute.  E-cigarettes users’ perception of risk ranged between viewing e-cigarettes as safe products to being ‘dangerous’. SSAs expressed more concerns than users, especially long term effect. Some advisors envisaged e-cigarettes’ benefits for particular cohorts. All participants perceived e-cigarettes to be less harmful than smoking.  Some perceived e-cigarettes to be as effective as or more than other Nicotine Replacement Therapies. There was a concern of developing an addiction to e-cigarettes and maintaining nicotine addiction. Nearly all users did not agree on e-cigarettes ban in public places and some feared of stigma shifting from smokers to e-cigarettes users. Most SSAs disapproved e-cigarettes’ resemblance to conventional cigarettes and favoured their ban in public. Nearly all SSAs favoured medicinal regulation to add e-cigarettes to their prescription list, aiming at eliminating nicotine. Conclusion The proliferation of conflicting evidence has created an atmosphere of uncertainty with different beliefs and attitudes towards e-cigarettes. Reliabevidence-based information, including harm reduction in nicotine addiction, needs to be available and communicated to avoid stigmatising e-cigarettes users.


Mrs. Nancy Tamimi / BDS. MSc. AFHEA PhD Candidate College of Business, Arts & Social Sciences Brunel University London Uxbridge,UB8 3PH, UK Twitter: @nancytamimi LinkedIn Nancy Tamimi

Conflicts of interest:

Funding Sources: self-funded

No conflict of interest


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Mrs Nancy Tamimi



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