OBJECTIVES: There is a lack of evidence exploring experiences of using e-cigarettes for smoking cessation. The study's main aim was to explore participant experiences of e-cigarettes compared to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) delivered through stop smoking services.
METHODS: Semi-structured, face-to-face, and telephone interviews at 3-month post-quit follow-up in a randomized controlled trial comparing nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, nicotine-free e-cigarettes, and NRT for smoking cessation. N = 17 participants, 9 were male, mean age 44 years, 5 using nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, 7 nicotine-free e-cigarettes, and 5 NRT. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Two global themes and 5 organizing themes were identified. Global themes included: (1) experiences of e-cigarette and NRT quit aids (e-cigarette positive impact and dilemmas, NRT perceptions and experiences), and (2) key mechanisms to support quit attempt (physical aids, advice and support, feedback and structure). E-cigarettes were viewed with caution, however, generally evaluated positively alongside NRT methods, finding e-cigarettes useful during a quit attempt due to their versatility in application. Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes were favored due to their support with nicotine cravings. Participants were, however, wary of replacing smoking addiction with vaping habit.
CONCLUSIONS: Participant e-cigarette experience were generally positive; however, concerns over long-term application were noted. There was a noticeable preference for nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, but further research is required to better understand how nicotine is used in conjunction with e-cigarettes long-term as a quit aid alongside other NRT.