E-cigarettes are the most popular method of quitting smoking in England and most are purchased in specialist vape shops. This qualitative study explores how the vape shop environment is experienced by quitters to support smoking abstinence. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted to elicit experiences of e-cigarette use, including experiences of vape shops, in 40 people who had used e-cigarettes in a quit attempt. Observations of six shops in a range of locations were also undertaken. Interview and observation data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis and triangulated. At an individual level, smoking abstinence was supported through shop assistants’ attempts to understand customers’ smoking preferences in order to: (i) tailor advice about the most appropriate product; and (ii) offer an ongoing point of contact for practical help. At an interpersonal level, shops offered opportunity to socialise and reinforce a vaping identity, although the environment was perceived as intimidating for some (e.g., new and female users). At a structural level, shops ensured easy access to products perceived to be good value by customers and had adapted to legislative changes. Vape shops can provide effective behavioural support to quitters to maintain smoking abstinence. Health professionals could capitalise on this through partnership working with shops, to ensure best outcomes for clients wanting to use e-cigarettes to quit smoking.
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