E‐cigarettes, vaping and performativity in the context of tobacco denormalisation
Abstract E‐cigarettes are devices through which a nicotine solution is ‘vapourised’ and inhaled by the user. Unlike cigarettes, the process involves no tobacco combustion. However, the inhalation and exhalation of vapour is reminiscent of smoking and there is debate about the possible harms and benefits of e‐cigarette use, including the ‘renormalisation’ of smoking. Despite these debates, there has been little exploration into the embodied and semiotic similarities between smoking and vaping. This paper views the practices of vaping and smoking through the lens of performativity that is, the accumulation of meaning associated with the habits over time and space. Through in‐depth interviews, we explore how young adults from primarily disadvantaged areas in Scotland, understand the similarity in practices between smoking and vaping. Participants talked about financial barriers to using different types of e‐cigarettes, and how their use reflected their views on smoking cessation. They also discussed the embodied similarities between smoking and vaping, with divergent opinions on whether this continuance of habit was beneficial or not, revealing still developing and ambiguous norms around performativity. The norms of vaping were also frequently discussed, with participants’ experiences and views reflecting the contested position of vaping in an environment where cigarette smoking is denormalised.
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