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From gateways to multilinear connections: A qualitative longitudinal investigation of the relationships between vaping and smoking among adolescent users

journal contribution
posted on 05.08.2021, 13:38 by Jason Hughes, Grace Sykes, Kahryn Hughes, Michelle O'Reilly, John Goodwin, Charlie Sutton, Khalid Karim
Background
The international growth of e-cigarette use has been accompanied by a corresponding concern that e-cigarettes will act as a ‘gateway’ to smoking and the use of other drugs. Taking these concerns as our point of departure, we explore the relationships between vaping and smoking among a cohort of young people.

Methods
Qualitative longitudinal methods with a diverse sample of 36 14–18-year olds from the UK city of Leicester. A total of 66 depth interviews conducted across two phases separated by 6–12 months. The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.

Findings
We highlight a complex ‘tangle’ of connections between substances/risk behaviours recounted to us by our adolescent study participants, including multiple and multilinear relationships between vaping and smoking. These findings problematise some of the core axioms of the notion of gateways as an explanatory model of causality and sequential connection between smoking and vaping. They also throw into question gateway logics more fundamentally. While many of our study participants themselves consciously invoked ideas of ‘gateway effects’, the accounts they produced repeatedly disrupted the logics of connection (between e-cigarettes and smoking; one set of behaviours and another) presupposed in gateway theory and our own early lines of questioning. Accordingly, we explore how cultural understandings of gateway effects are invoked by users in accounting for their vaping and smoking behaviours, noting the potential influence of these ideas upon the very processes they are understood to apprehend.

Conclusion
Our findings suggest there is a case to be made to reinforce the distinctiveness of tobacco and e-cigarettes in the life-worlds of young people to avoid naturalising a ‘gateway’ logic of connection that might ultimately inform the associative logic of young users themselves, and potentially the development of their usage careers.

History

Citation

International Journal of Drug Policy Volume 97, November 2021, 103341

Author affiliation

School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

International Journal of Drug Policy

Volume

97

Pagination

103341

Publisher

Elsevier BV

issn

0955-3959

Available date

03/07/2022

Language

en