E-cigarettes: a disruptive technology? An analysis of health actors' positions on E-cigarette regulation in Scotland

Heide Beatrix Weishaar, Theresa Ikegwuonu, Katherine E. Smith, Christina H. Buckton, Shona Hilton

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Abstract

Concerns have been raised that the divisions emerging within public health in response to electronic cigarettes are weakening tobacco control. This paper employed thematic and network analysis to assess 90 policy consultation submissions and 18 interviews with political actors to examine the extent of, and basis for, divisions between health-focused actors with regard to the harms and benefits of e-cigarettes and appropriate approaches to regulation in Scotland. The results demonstrated considerable engagement in e-cigarette policy development by health-focused actors and a widely held perception of strong disagreement. They show that actors agreed on substantive policy issues, such as age-of-sale restrictions and, in part, the regulation of advertising. Points of contestation were related to the harms and benefits of e-cigarettes and the regulation of vaping in public places. The topicality, limitations of the evidence base and underlying values may help explain the heightened sense of division. While suggesting that some opportunities for joint advocacy might have been missed, this analysis shows that debates on e-cigarette regulation cast a light upon differences in thinking about appropriate approaches to health policy development within the public health community. Constructive debates on these divisive issues among health-focused actors will be a crucial step toward advancing public health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3103
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume16
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2019

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Keywords

  • advocacy
  • electronic cigarettes
  • evidence
  • health policy
  • policy debate
  • public health
  • Scotland
  • tobacco control
  • United Kingdom

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