How e-cigarette vendors promote culture of ‘vaping’ online
Online e-cigarette vendors engage customers by using popular internet tools, a recent study says.
First introduced in the United States in 2007, electronic cigarettes have risen dramatically in part because they are popularly considered safer and more socially acceptable than combustible cigarettes and because there are fewer restrictions on their purchase and use.
The University of California study by San Diego School of Medicine researchers points to aggressive online marketing tactics that make purchasing e-cigarettes easy for all ages.
First author Tim K Mackey said that they found e-cigarette vendors were highly engaged in promoting the culture of ‘vaping’ online, including posting images to Instagram, a social media site used by 52 percent of teens.
Mackey added that despite the fact that 47 states prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, the results highlight the potential of the Internet to encourage e-cigarette initiation and underage purchasing. This is particularly concerning given that the FDA does not have specific proposed regulations for online e-cigarette sales.
Researchers found that 68 per cent of the 57 online e-cigarette vendors they studied displayed one or more health warnings about the devices on their website. However, the notices were often depicted in smaller fonts or placed discretely in the terms and conditions section of a website.
The study found that online e-cigarette vendors use a variety of sophisticated and aggressive marketing practices, including promotional offers and high social media engagement to promote the sale of their products, said Mackey.
Mackey and team reported that 70 per cent of the online vendors used more than one of the three most commonly used social media platforms: 63 per cent used Twitter, 52 per cent posted to Facebook and 42 per cent were on Instagram.
The researchers said the findings could impact the US Food and Drug Administration’s 2014 proposed regulations of e-cigarette use, sale, marketing and manufacturing to include online monitoring of the laws.
The study is published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. ANI