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Open Access Smoke and Vapor: Exploring the Terminology Landscape among Electronic Cigarette Users

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Objective: We explored the terminology of adult e-cigarette users in describing e-cigarette products and their use. We report how users discuss and differentiate these products and the language and culture surrounding them. Methods: Focus groups (N = 12) were held in 5 locations in the United States between March and May, 2014. Participants (N = 99) included young adults or adults who were either exclusive or nonexclusive e-cigarette users. We gathered data on how users identify various types of e-cigarettes and how users understand and describe specific terms. Results: Participants were familiar with the attributes of e-cigarettes in general but confused by the variety of products and unable to describe differences between product types. They were familiar with the term “vaping” even when they used “smoking“ more frequently, and were clear that e-cigarettes do not produce traditional cigarette smoke. They had varied opinions about what to call regular users of e-cigarettes. Conclusions: Findings highlight that conceptual clarity, including using specific and familiar terminology and product descriptions for users and nonusers alike, is challenging and crucial. It is important that surveillance efforts, policy development, messaging, and future research reflect the language understood and used by consumers to enable widespread comprehension.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2016

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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