Vaping – Youth perceptions and attitudes: evidence briefing

This briefing presents our understanding of youth perceptions of and attitudes towards vaping based on a review of the existing literature.


This evidence briefing is based on a search and analysis of scholarly research on youth perceptions of and attitudes towards vaping, and how they compare with perceptions of and attitudes towards conventional cigarette smoking. The search was carried out between February 2023 and January 2024.

The search was conducted on a number of search engines: KandE (a Scottish Government resource covering several databases), Google Scholar, PubMed and ScienceDirect. It included the following terms: “ENDS”, “e-cigarettes”, “vapes”, “vaping”, “youth”, “young people”, “adolescents”, “teenagers”, “children”, “perceptions”, “attitudes”, “views”.

Research conducted in countries culturally comparable to the UK (e.g. USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, European countries) has been included despite variations in policy approaches to vaping products. Priority has been given to studies involving young people under the age of 18. However, a few studies with participants above this age range have been incorporated when they provided relevant findings. The search has been narrowed to studies published after 2018 to account for changes in perceptions and attitudes following the introduction on the market of the latest generations of vaping products, such as pod-based and disposable vapes.

The majority of the studies included in this briefing are qualitative. Although qualitative research can provide valuable insights into personal perspectives and lived experiences, it also has inherent limitations such as risk of bias and small sample sizes which limit the generalisability of findings. These limitations have been considered when reporting findings.

A total of 33 papers were selected and reviewed, with the exclusion of opinion pieces and editorials. Of these, 10 were systematic reviews and/or meta-ethnographies, serving as the main sources for this briefing. Additionally, 23 primary studies have been incorporated to supplement these.

In this briefing we make reference to “vaping products” to describe both nicotine and non-nicotine devices used to inhale an aerosol. The sources analysed here adopt different terms and definitions. For accuracy and to preserve the original meaning, the terminology chosen by the authors of each review has been retained when summarising their findings.



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