Portrayal of electronic cigarettes on YouTube

As the most popular video sharing website in the world, YouTube has the potential to reach and influence a huge audience. This study aims to gain a systematic understanding of what e-cigarette messages people are being exposed to on YouTube by assessing the quantity, portrayal and reach of e-cigarette videos.

Published: 3 October 2014

Positive: No

Link to publication: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/14/1028

Authors

Chuan Luo
Xiaolong Zheng
Daniel Dajun Zeng
Scott Leischow


Summary

Methods

Researchers identified the top 20 search results on YouTube by relevance and view count for the following search terms: “electronic cigarettes”, “e-cigarettes”, “ecigarettes”, “ecigs”, “smoking electronic cigarettes”, “smoking e-cigarettes”, “smoking ecigarettes”, “smoking ecigs”. A sample of 196 unique videos was coded for overall portrayal and genre. Main topics covered in e-cigarette videos were recorded and video statistics and viewer demographic information were documented.

Results

Among the 196 unique videos, 94% (n = 185) were “pro” to e-cigarettes and 4% (n = 8) were neutral, while there were only 2% (n = 3) that were “anti” to e-cigarettes. The top 3 most prevalent genres of videos were advertisement, user sharing and product review. 84.3% of “pro” videos contained Web links for e-cigarette purchase. 71.4% of “pro” videos claimed that e-cigarettes were healthier than conventional cigarettes. Audience was primarily from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada and “pro” e-cigarette videos were watched more frequently and rated much more favorably than “anti” ones.


Conclusions

The vast majority of information on YouTube about e-cigarettes promoted their use and depicted the use of e-cigarettes as socially acceptable. It is critical to develop appropriate health campaigns to inform e-cigarette consumers of potential harms associated with e-cigarette use.

Full text in pdf: BMC Public Health _ Full text _ Portrayal of electronic cigarettes on YouTube