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.