Understanding E-Cigarette Adoption and Marketing: A Social Media Study

Project: Research project

Grant Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): E-cigarettes are being widely viewed as a disruptive technology with the potential to reshape the tobacco industry and perhaps even pharmaceutical companies that market nicotine replacement products. E-cigarette vendors, consumers, and other related stakeholders have been engaged in voluminous discussions in social media, which has become a critical source for understanding e- cigarette use behavior, health effects, and marketing practice. Yet, research in the intersection of e- cigarettes and social media analytics is almost non-existent, let alone automated systems that could potentially significantly improve the e-cigarette researchers and regulatory bodies' information gathering and analysis capabilities to facilitate evidence-based scientific inquiries and policy-making. This proposed interdisciplinary e-cigarette research is primarily motivated to provide social media data- driven scientific findings and technology-driven informatics tools to address the FDA CTP research priorities concerning understanding of reasons for e-cigarette use, e-cigarettes' health effects and efficacy as a smoking reduction and cessation aid, and vendors' marketing practice and related stakeholders' response. The specific aims of the proposed efforts are as follows. Aim 1 is focused on developing a dataset covering a significant portion of e-cigarette-related discussions in the English-based social media, as well as related social networking activities. Aim 2 is concerned with identifying e-cigarette consumers from the developed data collection, extracting reasons for e-cigarette use among social media users, and understanding e-cigarettes' health effects and efficacy for smoking reduction and cessation. Aim 3 focuses on understanding e-cigarette marketing in social media and corresponding responses of the related stakeholders. Aim 4 is concerned with the development of an integrated informatics platform for social media-based e-cigarette research. The proposed work aims to implement a social media analytics plan that can increase our knowledge of e-cigarette use reasons, health effects, efficacy for smoking reduction and cessation, marketing practice, related stakeholders' response in the U.S. Our data could deliver significant benefit to regulatory agencies like the FDA so that they can develop a better understanding of marketing and media that could come under their regulatory review. From the point of view of data sources, our studies will tap into th wealth of social media for analytical and regulatory purposes. We will also develop novel methods and tools to enable automatic analysis of large-scale social media datasets relevant to e-cigarettes. The proposed empirical studies using these tools are expected to generate fresh insights that complement existing research, much of which relies on survey data and anecdotes only. An integrated Web-based social media informatics system, along with a live data collection dedicated to e-cigarette research, will provide much-needed information and situational awareness support to benefit CTP missions and regulatory work.
Effective start/end date6/15/145/31/19


  • National Institutes of Health: $579,346.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $586,346.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $616,614.00


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