Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is becoming increasingly popular but little is known about the role of the local vapor store in promoting use and influencing customer attitudes and beliefs about vaping.Methods:
Thirty-three vapor store owners were interviewed about their personal beliefs and attitudes about e-cigarettes and what they told customers about the health impact of using e-cigarettes. Interviews were recorded then transcribed, coded, and analyzed for themes.Results:
Vapor store owners used the internet to obtain information about vaping, most often from YouTube and industry sources. Owners often did not have the training to critically evaluate research studies posted on the internet. Owners promoted vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking and often compared it to a medical treatment. Owners considered ingredients in the e-liquid as safe to use if it was safe to eat and discussed other foods vapor ingredients were found in. Owners also discussed the safety of secondhand vapor. Owners described the health impact of nicotine in e-liquid by comparing nicotine to caffeine and promoted the nicotine in e-liquid as coming from vegetables rather than tobacco. Finally, owners talked about vaping as a habit rather than a continued addiction to nicotine.Conclusions:
Local store owners are an important source of health information for current and potential e-cigarette users but their messages to customers may be based on incomplete or misinterpreted information. Understanding local store owner messages to customers in addition to internet-based messages is an important area for future public health research.