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Perceptions of Secondhand E-cigarette Aerosol among Twitter Users

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Objectives: There is considerable debate in the public health community about the health risks of secondhand exposure to the aerosol from electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Despite mounting scientific evidence of the chemical content of e-cigarette aerosol, public perceptions of the relative safety of secondhand e-cigarette aerosol have not been well characterized. Method: This study collected tweets (messages sent using Twitter) about exposure to secondhand e-cigarette aerosol over a 6-week period in 2015. Tweets were coded on sentiment about e-cigarettes (pro-, anti-, or neutral/unknown) and topic (health, social, advertisement, or unknown). Results: The 1519 tweets included 531 pro-e-cigarette tweets, 392 anti-e-cigarette tweets, and 596 neutral tweets. Social tweets far outnumbered health tweets (747 vs 182, respectively). Social-focused tweets were predominantly pro-e-cigarette, whereas health-focused tweets were predominantly anti-e-cigarette. Discussion: Twitter discussions about secondhand vaping are dominated by pro-e-cigarette social tweets, although there is a presence of anti-e-cigarette social tweets and tweets about negative and positive health effects. Public health and regulatory agencies could use social media and traditional media to disseminate the message that e-cigarette aerosol contains potentially harmful chemicals and could be perceived as offensive. This study identifies the prevalent topics and opinions that could be incorporated into health education messages.
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Keywords: E-CIGARETTES; SECONDHAND VAPOR; TWITTER

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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