A content analysis of the tweets of e-cigarette proponents in Australia

Michelle I Jongenelis, Gregory Jongenelis, Elise Alexander, Kelly Kennington, Fiona Phillips, Simone Pettigrew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

ISSUE ADDRESSED: Social media sites have become platforms for public discourse on e-cigarettes, providing proponents with an opportunity to disseminate favourable information about the devices. Research examining the information being presented by Australian proponents of e-cigarettes is limited. Accordingly, this study explored the Twitter feeds of Australian proponents of e-cigarettes to determine the nature of the e-cigarette-related content being disseminated.

METHODS: All publicly available e-cigarette-related tweets and retweets (n = 1397) disseminated over a 15-week period by five Australian e-cigarette proponents were captured and analysed.

RESULTS: The main topics covered in the 1397 tweets analysed related to (a) criticism of the arguments made by public health agencies/advocates who oppose e-cigarettes (29%), (b) Australian e-cigarette policy (19%), (c) the health risks of e-cigarettes (16%) and (d) the efficacy of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aids (13%). Proponents argued that the precautionary principle adopted by public health agencies/advocates lacks an appropriate evidence base and that legalising e-cigarettes would reduce smoking rates and smoking-related harm. Proponents minimised the risks associated with e-cigarette use and only presented evidence indicating that use facilitates smoking cessation.

CONCLUSIONS: The assessed tweets have the potential to reduce the public's trust in the information being presented by authoritative public health agencies/advocates. The dissemination of information downplaying the health risks associated with e-cigarettes may distort perceptions of the devices. SO WHAT?: To assist tobacco control efforts, results highlight the need for (a) ongoing surveillance of the tweets of e-cigarette proponents and (b) provision of evidence-based counterarguments on social media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-450
Number of pages6
JournalThe Health Promotion Journal of Australia
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

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