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A Practice Theory Approach to Understanding Tobacco and Cannabis Product Use in Everyday Life

Authors: Julia McQuoid*,
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Social Theory, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: health, substance use, practice theory, routines, young adults, cannabis, tobacco
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Practice theory is a promising alternative to traditional public health frameworks for understanding everyday activities related to health. It broadens the analytic focus from characteristics of individuals to viewing practices as having lives of their own in competing for, winning, and losing practitioners. We applied practice theory to understand how and why an increasing number of young Americans regularly use multiple tobacco and cannabis products in everyday life. In-depth interviews explored everyday routines with 60 young adults (ages 18-29; California) who regularly use cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), and/or smokeless tobacco, and at least one cannabis product. We explored the characterizing elements of each tobacco and cannabis product use practice, and their unique roles within the activities and contexts of participants’ everyday routines. Part one of our analysis focused on tobacco product use. We found that cigarettes were uniquely capable of aiding in the space-time organization of everyday activities and coping with crisis, while ENDS and smokeless tobacco opened up times and spaces for nicotine consumption. Many participants rotated or modulated use of different products as a strategy for reducing perceived harms. This paper reports our recent findings on cannabis use practices alongside our findings on tobacco product use practices, providing insight into and anticipation of the evolution of tobacco and cannabis use practices as new products and regulations emerge within the context of recreational cannabis legalization in California.

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