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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Internet-based Advertising Claims and Consumer Reasons for Using Electronic Cigarettes by Device Type in the US.

  • Author(s): Pulvers, Kim
  • Sun, Jessica Y
  • Zhuang, Yue-Lin
  • Holguin, Gabriel
  • Zhu, Shu-Hong
  • et al.

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Objectives:Important differences exist between closed-system and open-system e-cigarettes, but it is unknown whether online companies are marketing these devices differently and whether consumer reasons for using e-cigarettes vary by device type. This paper compares Internet-based advertising claims of closed- versus open-system products, and evaluates US consumers' reasons for using closed- versus open-system e-cigarettes. Methods:Internet sites selling exclusively closed (N = 130) or open (N = 129) e-cigarettes in December 2013-January 2014 were coded for advertising claims. Current users (≥18 years old) of exclusively closed or open e-cigarettes (N = 860) in a nationally representative online survey in February-March 2014 provided their main reason for using e-cigarettes. Results:Internet sites that exclusively sold closed-system e-cigarettes were more likely to make cigarette-related claims such as e-cigarettes being healthier and cheaper than cigarettes (ps < .0001) compared to sites selling open systems. Many sites implied their products could help smokers quit. Exclusive users of both systems endorsed cessation as their top reason. Closed-system users were more likely to report their reason as "use where smoking is banned." Conclusions:Although promotion of e-cigarettes as cessation aids is prohibited, consumers of both systems endorsed smoking cessation as their top reason for using e-cigarettes.

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