1. Social media to help study e-cigarette habits

Social media to help study e-cigarette habits

Researchers are turning to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to study the consumer habits and health effects of e-cigarettes...

By: | Washington | Published: December 25, 2014 6:42 PM

Researchers are turning to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to study the consumer habits and health effects of e-cigarettes, especially among teenagers.

Using a USD 2.7 million, 5-year grant from the US National Institutes of Health, the team will collect data from Facebook, Twitter and several e-cigarette forums among other websites, said Daniel Zeng, co-principal investigator at University of Arizona.

Researchers will use the data to create a real-time, web-based information management system that regulatory agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centre for Tobacco Products can use to make policy decisions.

“We just want to observe what is going on, especially among young people,” said Zeng.

The study will include information on public perceptions of e-cigarettes, typical consumers, public vendors, social media marketing tactics and government interests, azcentral.com reported.

Mayo Clinic’s Dr Scott Leischow, co-principal investigator plans to look at how social media may contribute to the growing use of e-cigarettes among adolescents.

Leischow said it is important users understand that although electronic cigarettes are less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes, the risks are not yet fully understood.

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Tags: E-cigarettes
  1. Jon Edwards
    Jan 17, 2015 at 9:39 am
    I trust that mining data for this purpose, without the consent of data subjects or forum owners is considered ethical by the ethics committee at the University of Arizona, and doesn't break the laws of the US or other countries? It's also hard to see how this sort of "study" can hold any scientific weight at all given the anonymous nature of many internet forums. How for example can it be held above the thousands of e-cigarette success stories, which are entirely dismissed by researchers such as this as being "anecdotal". Waste of $2.7m if you ask me.
    1. E
      Jan 7, 2015 at 8:29 pm
      I don't believe that policy decisions should be based on observations from social media, even if those observations appear to be "scientific" because they have been captured in a data base. The observations do not qualify as scientific because they lack context.

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