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Emotion in the ANDS (alternative nicotine delivery systems) market: Practice-theoretical insight into a volatile market

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Purpose

The alternative nicotine delivery systems (ANDS) market is complex, with a range of multi-national and multi-sector stakeholders competing for market share but also clashing ideologically as the evidence about the impact and side-effects of ANDS emerges. This empirical study examines the beliefs, goals and emotions at the heart of the practices performed by actors within the organisations behind the controversial commercial explosion of ANDS.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was designed to explore business strategies from the viewpoints of ANDS business stakeholders. A purposive, snowball sampling strategy was used to recruit ANDS stakeholders and gatekeepers among UK tobacco multinational and independent companies (n = 28). Data were then analysed using a marketas-practices theoretical framework which specifically frames market activities as practices, governed by teleoaffective structures, which seek to establish market procedures and rules, and which contribute to the taste regimes of a consumer practice.

Findings

Analysis has indicated that the ANDS market is highly contested and volatile, interwoven with competition, emotion and conflicting beliefs. In this context, there are commercial practices routinely undertaken in an attempt to align stakeholders' beliefs, which is seen as a core part of the corporate activities required within the marketplace. A key driver of these alignment activities is the profit end-goal, but this is in tension with beliefs, such as about doing 'right' and the objectivity of 'science'. Beliefs across this emergent market vary and are strongly held, and they lead to emotional positions, tying back to why aligning stakeholders is difficult. Analysis illuminates how the projects, end goals, emotions and beliefs which comprise the teleoaffective structures of various corporate practices in the ANDS market might inform the rules and norms of the market, shaping a taste regime experienced by consumers.

Limitations

The data and analysis cannot account for the beliefs and emotions of public health bodies, researchers, the media, policymakers and other stakeholders, but seek to illuminate how teleoaffectivity is a key part of market practices. Furthermore, the taste regimes of ANDS consumers cannot be observed in the data due to the focus on ANDS commercial actors. Finally, it is possible that conscious or unconscious biases in the interviewing style may have driven interviewees' responses and influenced data interpretation.

Implications

Tobacco control is one of the greatest success stories of public health; smoking prevalence has been driven down with a combination of popular empowerment and corporate containment. All this depended on a coherent and accepted evidence base. As this evidence base has fractured during the evolution of the ANDS market, so the stories have proliferated and progress has become less certain. The high emotion in the ANDS market indicates a tougher task for behaviour change activity targeting corporate actors. Contribution This paper speaks to the multiple calls in the behaviour change literature to tackle the intractable problems of the day through upstream measures including the restriction of corporate activity. The value is in the unique dataset and in the ambition of the project to unravel behind-the-scenes activities in the ANDS market. A practice-theoretical framework, although conceptually complex, is deployed to capture the complex intertwining of multiple practices and thus attempt to grasp the full significance of teleoaffectivity in the marketplace.
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Keywords: BEHAVIOUR CHANGE; E-CIGARETTES; MARKET; PRACTICE THEORY; TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION; TOBACCO INDUSTRY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2017

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