BFC and RBWM Vaping Insights Work

Vape lying on the ground

Vapes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices that can be used to inhale vapour, which often contains nicotine. Vapes are considered useful tools to support smoking cessation but are not recommended for use by those who do not smoke, or for anyone under the age of 18.

Despite this, vaping among young people is on the rise, with over a fifth (21%) of children having tried vaping nationally in 2023. Given that vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, there is limited research to understand why this might be.

In June 2023, Bracknell Forest (BF) Council and the Royal Borough of Windsor &  Maidenhead (RBWM) commissioned Healthy Dialogues to conduct insights work into young people’s use of and attitudes towards e-cigarettes and vaping.


Healthy Dialogues conducted a series of interviews and focus groups with young people and parents of young people who lived or studied in BF or RBWM.

These interviews and focus groups were analysed using thematic analysis.

Aims and objectives

The aim of this insights work was to improve BF council and RBWM’s understanding around the use of e-cigarettes amongst young people.

The objectives were to:

  • Explore e-cigarette use amongst young people, including why young people use e-cigarettes.
  • Determine young people’s perceptions of e-cigarettes.
  • Test messages to discourage use of e-cigarettes among young people.

Key findings

Views from young people

Overall, young people consider vaping to be a trend and a way to fit in and be ‘cool’. It is widespread on social media and is often visible in public settings as well as schools, leading to it being seen as normalised.

Despite it being illegal to sell vapes to, or buy on behalf of, anyone under the age of 18, vapes are easy to for young people to access.

Vaping is a social behaviour, acting as a conversation starter and a way to connect for many young people.

There are many misconceptions about the risks attached to vapes, leading to confusion over how dangerous they are, and what the long-term impacts may be. Young people are typically aware that vaping is addictive, with vaping behaviours often increasing during times of stress and anxiety.

Generally, young people would be receptive to receiving education around vaping, tighter restrictions to make vapes harder to access, and clear messaging around the facts and risks of vaping.ideas of imaging

Views from parents

Overall parents were concerned by the increasing vape use among young people. There is a belief among parents that vapes are being marketed to young people and are easily accessible.

Parents are concerned about the unknown risks of vaping, due to the lack of evidence.

It was suggested that making vapes less attractive, addressing social anxiety, providing clearer messaging around vaping, and providing support for parents would be effective avenues for addressing vaping among young people.


Drawing on the findings from this insights work, Healthy Dialogues provided BF Council and RBWM with recommendations for young people, parents, schools and professionals working with young people, councils, NHS and lifestyle services, as well as trading standards and retailers to reduce and prevent vaping among young people.