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Using an e-Cigarette is Like Eating Tofu When You Really Want Meat

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Objective Whereas controversy about the e-cigarette's effectiveness and safety as a smoking cessation tool continues, e-cigarette use prevalence continues rising. In this study, we sought to describe experiences of adult e-cigarette users and to examine their motivations, beliefs, and use patterns. Methods This qualitative study included one-on-one semi-structured phone interviews with 20 current California e-cigarette users (mean age = 38 ± 9.44 years). Interviews were transcribed and thematically analyzed using MAXQDA. Results E-cigarettes initially addressed participants' problems related to smoking; they no longer smelled like cigarette smoke and could avoid smoke-free regulations. Participants highlighted the importance of e-cigarette flavors and of "receiving moral credit" for harm reduction by using e-cigarettes to quit smoking cigarettes. Many described eventual dissatisfaction with e-cigarettes, which resulted in relapse to cigarette smoking and/or dual use with cigarettes. The convenience of e-cigarettes coupled with the pattern of constant use left participants increasingly reliant on e-cigarettes. Conclusion Ultimately, failed cessation and dual use exposes smokers to greater levels of nicotine, while still exposing them to cigarette smoke. Public health campaigns should promote awareness of the risks of using e-cigarettes, including failed cessation attempts, dual use, addiction, and other health consequences.

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