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The rise in popularity of e-cigarettes in recent years has been accompanied by a growth in the number of virtual ‘vaper’ communities, with people sharing their advice and experiences of e-cigarettes with peers on internet support groups and discussion forums, many of which address ways of reducing or stopping smoking. The rise of peer to peer support is unique to e-cigarettes; no other means of stopping or reducing smoking attracts such passionate engagement from members of the public. This raises the possibility that we could better harness this peer support to enable more people to reduce or stop smoking using e-cigarettes and this project examines this.

The first project will explore how different vaping communities communicate with one another, specifically examining online content and forums.

The second study will be a content-driven analysis of data from an on-going randomised controlled trial that enlisted the support of experienced vapers in providing telephone support to smokers who were offered an e-cigarette by their GP.

The audio-recordings between the experienced vapers and smokers will be analysed to identify what concerns new vapers have, how they respond to reassurances offered by peer supporters, and to understand which components of support are effective and how this can be maximised. Building on the first and second study, the third study will involve developing and testing a peer-led intervention for new vapers and will assess the value of peer support in encouraging smokers to switch to vaping.

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