Influence of Flavors on the Propagation of E-Cigarette–Related Information : Social media study

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

5 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere27
Journal / PublicationJMIR Public Health and Surveillance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2018



Background: Modeling the influence of e-cigarette flavors on information propagation could provide quantitative policy decision support concerning smoking initiation and contagion, as well as e-cigarette regulations. 
Objective: The objective of this study was to characterize the influence of flavors on e-cigarette–related information propagation on social media. 
Methods: We collected a comprehensive dataset of e-cigarette–related discussions from public Pages on Facebook. We identified 11 categories of flavors based on commonly used categorizations. Each post’s frequency of being shared served as a proxy measure of information propagation. We evaluated a set of regression models and chose the hurdle negative binomial model to characterize the influence of different flavors and nonflavor control variables on e-cigarette–related information propagation. 
Results: We found that 5 flavors (sweet, dessert & bakery, fruits, herbs & spices, and tobacco) had significantly negative influences on e-cigarette–related information propagation, indicating the users’ tendency not to share posts related to these flavors. We did not find a positive significance of any flavors, which is contradictory to previous research. In addition, we found that a set of nonflavor–related factors were associated with information propagation. 
Conclusions: Mentions of flavors in posts did not enhance the popularity of e-cigarette–related information. Certain flavors could even have reduced the popularity of information, indicating users’ lack of interest in flavors. Promoting e-cigarette–related information with mention of flavors is not an effective marketing approach. This study implies the potential concern of users about flavorings and suggests a need to regulate the use of flavorings in e-cigarettes.

Research Area(s)

  • E-cigarettes, Electronic nicotine delivery systems, Flavoring agents, Flavors, Information dissemination, Information propagation, Social media, Social networking, Social networks

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