Vapers who continue to smoke are in denial about their addiction and could struggle to kick the habit

June 27, 2017, Kingston University, London
Credit: Burger/Phanie/Rex

People who vape as well as smoke traditional cigarettes may find it harder to quit as they don't see themselves as smokers, according to research undertaken by Kingston University.

Describing a typical smoker as smelly, inconsiderate and lacking self-control, many who use e-cigarettes – also known as vaping – while continuing to smoke traditional cigarettes are likely to try to distance themselves from a group they regard negatively, the research found.

One participant commented that he would be offended if labelled a smoker and another said he regarded himself as a vaper because it was more socially acceptable – despite both participants still smoking traditional cigarettes.

Dr Tushna Vandrevala, an expert in Health Psychology and Senior Lecturer at Kingston University who co-wrote the report, said there was limited evidence about why, despite being promoted as a means of smoking cessation, the use of e-cigarettes did not always help to kick the habit.

"Our study suggests this may be linked to identity," Dr Vandrevala said. "People who exclusively smoke cigarettes and wish to dissociate themselves from the negative smoker identity tend to quit. But those who continue to smoke alongside using e-cigarettes tend to dissociate themselves from the negative image of a traditional smoker.

"They view themselves as an enhanced or healthier version of the person they were when they smoked and therefore belong in an in-between position," she added.

Professor Adrian Coyle, Kingston University's Chair in Social Psychology and co-author of the report, explained that this in-between position depended on who they were with at the time. "Dual users seem to inhabit a position of sort-of-smoker or sort-of-vaper, depending on whether they are with smokers or vapers at the time," he explained.

The study, which was based on data collected by final-year psychology students at Kingston University and has been published in the online journal Health Psychology Open, explored the key motivating factors for people taking up e-cigarettes and examined how people's experiences of vaping differed to smoking.

Financial concerns and health concerns were cited as key reasons for taking up e-cigarettes in favour of traditional cigarettes, as well as being able to use e-cigarettes in environments where smoking is forbidden. Peer influence also played a factor, with vaping seen as cool and more socially acceptable by many of the participants.

However, it was the issues around identify and social perceptions which proved fascinating to Dr Vandrevala and Professor Coyle, and have prompted them to investigate issues of identify among dual users further.

"We need to see how sustainable this in-between, sort-of-smoker and sort-of-vaper identity proves to be for dual users. It may be difficult for them to sustain if it's psychologically uncomfortable and if it's undermined by peers who are solely smokers or vapers," Professor Coyle said.

"And if it's hard to sustain, do dual users revert to using traditional cigarettes only or do they become exclusive vapers?"

Latest figures from ASH show that, while the number of current cigarette smokers who also vape rose from 2.7% in 2010 to 17.6% in 2014, this plateaued in 2015 and increased slightly to 19.4% in 2016.

The growing number of dual users highlights the need for more research in this area, Dr Vandrevala said.

Explore further: E-cigarettes less addictive than cigarettes, PATH study shows

More information: Tushna Vandrevala et al. 'A good method of quitting smoking' or 'just an alternative to smoking'? Comparative evaluations of e-cigarette and traditional cigarette usage by dual users, Health Psychology Open (2017). DOI: 10.1177/2055102916684648

Related Stories

E-cigarettes less addictive than cigarettes, PATH study shows

June 12, 2017
People who regularly use electronic cigarettes are less dependent on their product than those who regularly use traditional cigarettes, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

Young people do not associate e-cigarettes with increased likelihood of smoking

March 8, 2017
New peer-reviewed research published today in Drugs Education Prevention and Policy shows that e-cigarettes are not increasing the likelihood of tobacco consumption and may in fact be contributing to negative perceptions ...

Chest physicians split on pros and cons of e-cigarettes

May 1, 2017
Patients are asking their chest physicians about using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, but those physicians are divided about whether the products do more harm than good, according to a Yale-led study. The finding demonstrates ...

Doctors should prescribe e-cigarettes to smokers: UK

August 19, 2015
E-cigarettes should be prescribed to smokers to help them quit the habit, British public health experts recommended in a study on Wednesday.

Teens who vape at increased risk for future cigarette smoking

February 7, 2017
Among high school seniors who have never smoked a cigarette, those who vape are more than four times more likely to smoke a cigarette in the following year than their peers who do not vape.

E-cigarettes: Gateway or roadblock to cigarette smoking?

June 17, 2016
A new study from the UK Centre for Substance Use Research, being presented today at the Global Forum on Nicotine, shows e-cigarettes are playing an important role in reducing the likelihood of young people smoking, in many ...

Recommended for you

Drinking may worsen hearing loss at loud concerts

April 19, 2018
(HealthDay)—High-decibel music blasting at big concert venues is a known cause of short-term hearing loss. But new research suggests drinking doesn't help matters, with drunk concertgoers actually moving closer to loudspeakers.

Age affects how we predict and respond to stress at home

April 19, 2018
A recent study finds that older adults are better than younger adults at anticipating stressful events at home - but older adults are not as good at using those predictions to reduce the adverse impacts of the stress.

Low total testosterone in men widespread, linked to chronic disease

April 19, 2018
A male's total testosterone level may be linked to more than just sexual health and muscle mass preservation, a new study finds. Low amounts of the hormone could also be associated with chronic disease, even among men 40 ...

Low-cost anti-hookworm drug boosts female farmers' physical fitness

April 19, 2018
Impoverished female farm workers infected with intestinal parasites known as hookworms saw significant improvements in physical fitness when they were treated with a low-cost deworming drug. The benefits were seen even in ...

What happens to our muscles during spaceflight and when living on Mars?

April 17, 2018
The inactivity of astronauts during spaceflights presents a significant risk to their muscles, says a new study in The Journal of Physiology. Scientists have simulated the impact of 21 day spaceflights on the body, and the ...

Parental diet before conception affects child's health

April 17, 2018
A child's health can be compromised not only by a mother who smokes or drinks during pregnancy, but by the obesity and poor diet of both parents well before the act of procreation, researchers said Tuesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.