A new study from the Kingston University in London* has determined that people who vape and smoke at the same time (« dual users ») find it harder to quit as they don’t consider themselves as smokers.
The study was based on data collected by psychology students at the very same university. It focused on a group of 20 dual users. It explored more generally speaking the key motivating factors for people taking up e-cigarettes. Searchers also examined the differences between the vaping experience and the smoking one.
Starting e-cigarettes to replace classical tobacco products has mainly been explained by financial concerns, health concerns as well as being able to use e-cigs where smoking is banned. Peer influence also played a role. Vaping is generally considered as cool and more socially acceptable than smoking.
Dual users are keen to differentiate themselves from smokers. One participant for example said that he would be offended if called a smoker and another said he regarded himself as a vaper because it was more socially acceptable. Both of them were still smoking cigarettes while vaping.
For Doctor Tushna Vandrevala, a Senior Lecturer at London’s Kingston University and co-author of the report, « 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 ».
For Professor Adrian Coyle, Kingston University’s Chair in Social Psychology and also a co-author of the study, the attitude of dual users depends on who they are with and their environment. “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 ».
And since dual users don’t consider themselves as smokers anymore, they find it harder to quit.
In the UK, the latest figures from ASH show that the number of dual users rose from 2.7% in 2010 to 17.6% in 2014 and to 19.4% in 2016. For Dr. Vandrevala, the growing number of dual users as well as the results of this study underlines the need for more research in this area.
* Tushna Vandrevala, Adrian Coyle, Victoria Walker, Joshelyn Cabrera Torres, Izobel Ordoña, Panna Rahman.
Published in Health Psychology Open, 2017