Introduction: Many UK smokers use e-cigarettes as a quitting aid; however, a substantial number discontinue use of the e-cigarette and revert to smoking. Understanding why this may happen is important both for individuals and for stop smoking services.
Aims: To explore young adult smokers’ experiences of use and discontinued use of the e-cigarette.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six participants who tried e-cigarettes for at least seven days and returned to smoking. Data was transcribed and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Results: Findings suggested participants held conflicting attitudes about using e-cigarettes, which undermined attempts to quit smoking, and led to the discontinuation of the e-cigarette. These conflicts centred on participants’ discomfort with the e-cigarette or vaping identity, lack of abstinence self-efficacy and navigation of barriers to e-cigarette use. The complex interplay of these factors may have led to an underestimation of the individual effort required to continue vaping and reinforced participants’ perception of the e-cigarette as an inferior product to the cigarette.
Conclusions: Future research should focus on the role of identity, self-efficacy, control and smokers’ expectations of e-cigarettes on smoking cessation as these may be important factors to consider for a more tailored service for e-cigarette users.