A content analysis of vaping advertisements on Twitter, November 2014

Shaina J. Sowles, Melissa J. Krauss, Sarah Connolly, Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction Vaping has increased in popularity, and the potential harms and benefits are largely unknown. Vaping-related advertising is expected to grow as the vaping industry grows; people are exposed primarily to vaping advertisements on the Internet, and Twitter is an especially popular social medium among young people. The primary objective of our study was to describe the characteristics of vaping-related advertisements on Twitter. Methods We collected data on 403,079 English-language tweets that appeared during November 2014 and contained vaping-related keywords. Using crowdsourcing services, we identified vaping-related advertisements in a random sample of 5,000 tweets. The advertisement tweets were qualitatively coded for popular marketing tactics by our research team. We also inferred the demographic characteristics of followers of 4 Twitter handles that advertised various novel vape products. Results The random sample of 5,000 vaping-related tweets included 1,156 (23%) advertisement tweets that were further analyzed. Vape pens were advertised in nearly half of the advertisement tweets (47%), followed by e-juice (21%), which commonly mentioned flavors (42%). Coupons or price discounts were frequently observed (32%); only 3% of tweets mentioned vaping as a way to quit smoking or as an alternative to smoking. One handle had a disproportionately high percentage of racial/ethnic minority followers. Conclusion Vaping poses a threat to smoking prevention progress, and it is important for those in tobacco control to understand and counter the tactics used by vaping companies to entice their consumers, especially on social media where young people can easily view the content.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160274
JournalPreventing chronic disease
Volume13
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

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