Vape shop owners may perceive e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems to be less harmful and more economical than cigarettes and view them as a viable way to quit smoking, according to a recent study by the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
Electronic nicotine delivery systems, also known as ENDS, are steadily growing in popularity,with sales reaching $3.5 billion at the end of 2015, the study noted.
In 2015, School of Public Health researchers interviewed 20 vape shop operators located in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Caroline about their perceptions of the benefits and risks of electronic nicotine delivery systems, also known as ENDS. The interviews also asked operators what information they shared with customers and about their thoughts on the impact of existing and future ENDS regulations.
The results are published in an article, titled “A Qualitative Study of Vape Shop Operators’ Perceptions of Risk and Benefits of E-Cigarette Use and Attitude Toward Their Potential Regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina, 2015,” in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventing Chronic Disease.
Most of the vape shop owners interviewed were former cigarette smokers and relied on their personal experiences and the Internet for information about the harms and benefits of ENDS. Most owners also expressed concern that complying with certain regulations, such as banning flavors or tax increases on ENDS, would jeopardize their business.
“Vape shop owners are in a unique position to serve as frontline consumer educators,” the researchers stated. Future public health work in this area, the researchers added, “should focus on providing them with current information on benefits and risks of ENDS and information on national, state, and local regulations and compliance requirements.”
The study’s authors are Dr. Pratibha Nayak, a postdoctoral research associate with the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) at Georgia State’s School of Public Health; Ms. Catherine Kemp, a doctoral student in the School of Public Health; and Ms. Pamela Redmon, administrative director of TCORS.
TCORS, established at Georgia State in 2013, takes a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding human and economic factors that contribute to tobacco use. The Center, housed within the School of Public Health, conducts research designed to inform the regulation of tobacco products to protect public health.