The medium is not the message: A content analysis of public information about vaping product regulations in Australia

Kyle Eu Soon Saw, Kylie Morphett, Cheneal Puljevic, Marilyn Bromberg, Coral Gartner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Vaping products have been growing in popularity in recent years, including in Australia. Australian laws covering vaping products are complex and vary significantly between jurisdictions. It has been acknowledged that there is public confusion about these laws. This study aims to explore publically-available information about vaping products-related laws disseminated via mainstream media and key stakeholder websites.

A content analysis was conducted on 302 news articles identified in the Factiva database, and on 73 key stakeholder websites that provided information about vaping product regulations in Australia between January 2005 and January 2018. Items were coded for the type of regulations discussed, the source of information and the information provided about the legal status of vaping products.

Public advice covered regulations around sales, public use, nicotine importation, nicotine's classification as a poison and nicotine possession. In the majority of news articles, journalists did not cite the source of the information pertaining to vaping products laws, making it difficult for the public to judge its accuracy. We identified several inconsistencies in the information being disseminated through both channels.

The inconsistent information provided to the public regarding vaping products likely reflects Australia's complex and varying laws governing the sale, use and possession of vaping products with and without nicotine. We recommend that relevant Australian federal, state and territory health agencies provide a clear and consistent message that covers all relevant information pertaining to vaping products and nicotine within respective jurisdictions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-578
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


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