A qualitative exploration of consumers’ perceived impacts, behavioural reactions, and future reflections of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (2017) as applied to electronic cigarettes

Emma Ward, Claudia Anholt, Sarah Gentry, Lynne Dawkins, Richard Holland, Caitlin Notley

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Background: Electronic cigarette regulations included in the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), Article 20, implemented in Europe by May 2017, aimed to improve safety for e-cigarette consumers, and prevent uptake among non-smokers, particularly young people. Before implementation, there were significant concerns from consumers, industry, and some in the scientific community about the potential negative impact of the TPD on people using e-cigarettes to stay stopped from smoking. To date, there is limited evidence on how the TPD has affected consumers. This study aimed to add insight into how consumers perceived and experienced the regulations.
Methods: Qualitative data, collected between March 2018 and March 2019, relating to participant views of the TPD were extracted from 160 interviews/extended surveys of e-cigarette consumers as part of a wider study into e-cigarette use trajectories (ECtra study). Data were thematically analysed.
Results: Awareness of the TPD amongst consumers was not universal. Participants’ smoking behaviour did not appear to be influenced by the legislation. Participants were reassured by manufacturing regulations and requirements for ingredients labels. Participants responded negatively to changes perceived to cause inconvenience and extra plastic waste. The product restrictions prompted some participants to purchase non-compliant products illegally, potentially putting their safety at risk.
Conclusions: E-cigarette regulation should focus on ensuring product safety. Raising awareness of the TPD amongst consumers and smokers could be beneficial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalTobacco Use Insights
Early online date19 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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