‘No, the government doesn’t need to, it’s already self-regulated’: a qualitative study among vape shop operators on perceptions of electronic vapor product regulation

Abstract: While the market share of electronic vapor products (EVPs), sold primarily through vape shops and other outlets, has increased rapidly, these products remained largely unregulated until 2016. This study, conducted prior to announcement of the deeming regulations, provides insights into vape shop operator attitudes toward potential government regulations of EVPs. In 2015, we conducted 37 in-person interviews of vape shop operators across nine US cities. Shops were identified through extensive web-searches. We used QSR International’s NVivo 11 qualitative data analysis software to analyze the transcripts. Many vape shop operators viewed regulations requiring safe production of e-liquids, child-resistant bottles and listing e-juice ingredients as acceptable. They disagreed with the elimination of free samples and bans on flavored e-liquid sales, which generate significant revenue for their stores. Many held negative perceptions of pre-market review of new product lines and EVP-specific taxes. All agreed that EVPs should not be sold to minors, but most felt that owners should not be fined if minors visited vape shops. Findings from this study offer insights into the acceptability of proposed regulations, as well as barriers to effective regulation implementation.