Smokers wanting to switch from conventional cigarettes to vaping, or electronic cigarettes, are encountering unexpected hurdles, new research shows.
University of Otago researchers interviewed 20 vapers who were still regularly smoking to find out why they hadn't transitioned completely.
The main reason those interviewed had not stopped smoking cigarettes completely was nostalgia for what they described as 'real cigarettes', and the different experience they felt when vaping.
Professor Janet Hoek said interviewees also felt there was a stigma around their vaping.
"Some of them talked about getting negative feedback from friends, colleagues, members of their social networks who are continuing to smoke and talking to them about the lack of authenticity and that vaping is not the real deal," she said.
Some of them also received negative feedback from members of the public due to the large clouds of vapour which occur when vaping, she said.
As a result, participants stopped trying to quit smoking altogether as they felt just cutting down on traditional cigarettes also had health benefits.
"There is a perception that reducing smoking will deliver a lot of additional health benefits, but actually the evidence is that even very, very low levels of smoking still present serious health risks to people," said Professor Hoek.
People would benefit from being informed of this evidence, as well and knowing from the outset vaping would be a different experience from traditional smoking, she added.
Ideally Professor Hoek would like to see the sales of e-cigarettes and vaping products limited to specialist shops and pharmacies.
"Participants see specialist vape-shop staff as expert advisers; retailers of electronic nicotine delivery systems could help remind people of the importance of giving up entirely," she said.