E-cigarette ads work like secondhand smoke for Twitterers

Washington: On Twitter, e-cigarette advertisements spread like secondhand smoke, according to a new study.

Are 500 retweets the modern equivalent of “everyone’s doing it” when it comes to e-cigarette marketing? While the Food and Drug Administration has proposed a ban on the sales of e-cigarettes to people under 18, as we are beginning to understand the health effects of the substitute to smoking, a recent study by researchers at Drexel University and the University of Southern California suggests that e-cigarette marketing on social media is about as containable as second-hand smoke.

Several states have enacted laws limiting where e-cigarettes can be used, after citing public health concerns, but as no federal law has been created to curtail e-cigarette advertising, companies are resorting to tactics employed by the heyday of the Marlboro Man. But this time, their message is wafting even farther in the wind of social media, according to the study.

Author Kar-Hai Chu said that as public health researchers, their job is to figure out whether people are seeing messages that might lead them to make unhealthy decisions. “If an e-cigarette tweet reaches underage users and makes them curious about trying e-cigarettes, which is something we would want to know. The results of the study could help provide guidelines and advice for many potential regulations.”

The point raised by this study is that the residual dispersal, beyond the primary audiences, cannot be controlled in a social media environment that does not limit the age of its users and this is a major consideration that must be understood before any regulations could be enacted.

The study is recently published in the journal PLOS ONE. (ANI)