The anti-smoking fight among the youth is a sensitive topic in the US. And it also takes place online. It has just been unveiled that the National Institutes of Health have financed a large study dedicated to online discussions on social networks related to e-cigarettes. The aim of this study is to better understand how vaping can bring young people to start smoking. And therefore to find the best way to communicate efficiently with them.
The National Institutes of Health is dependant of the Health Department of the US government. As such, it aims at analyzing the popularity of the e-cigarette on social networks through data gathered by this survey on Twitter and Reddit. Entitled “Toward fine-grained e-cigarette surveillance on social media”, this study will be carried out by searchers from the University of Kentucky who will by paid 199 665 dollars. It started on August 10. It will focus on tweets and posts related to e-cigarettes over the 1-year period from July 2016 to July 2017.
The main goal of this study is to better understand the interest of the public, and most particularly the young people, for electronic cigarettes. While the e-cigarette is increasingly used as a nicotine substitue by former smokers, American health agencies fear that it might be a gateway towards tobacco use for the youth. The National Institutes of Health aims at gathering data on public reactions of e-cig users and build-up a database that will enable the FDA to fine-tune its prevention campaigns on social networks. This initiative is consistent with the efforts of the federal agency to raise awareness among the youth about the potential dangers of vaping via a multi-media campaign that will start in 2018.