Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCSF

UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

A Pilot Study of Retail 'Vape Shops' in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • Author(s): Burbank, Andrea D
  • Thrul, Johannes
  • Ling, Pamela M
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction

The use of electronic cigarettes or vape devices is increasing, and products are evolving rapidly. This study assessed retail vape shops in the San Francisco Bay Area to describe store characteristics, products offered, advertisements and health claims, as well as employees' perceptions of their customers' demographics, and practices to support smoking cessation.

Methods

We conducted store audits of shops that exclusively sell vape devices with physical addresses in San Francisco and Alameda counties (n=23, response rate 72%) and interviewed vape shop owners/employees.

Results

While all stores carried second and third generation vape devices, 83% of stores did not carry first generation devices. Employees estimated the majority of their customers bought devices for smoking cessation or to replace tobacco, and a small minority purchased for first-time recreational use. Employees most frequently recommended dosing nicotine based on usual cigarette consumption, adjusting doses based on "throat hit" or cravings, use of a second or third generation e-cigarette, and encouraged customers to experiment and customize to "whatever works for you" as smoking cessation advice.

Conclusions

Vape shops report a significant number of their customers are interested in smoking cessation, and employees are giving smoking cessation advice. A subpopulation of customers includes some nicotine novices. Studies of vape shops should include both observations and interviews with employees in order to detect important informal practices that may differ from posted signs or printed advertising. These practices include cessation counseling, product claims, and custom discount prices or bargaining.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View