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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Where Do People Vape? Insights from Twitter Data


Background: Emerging evidence suggests that exposure to secondhand and thirdhand aerosol from electronic cigarettes may have serious health risks including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Social media data can help identify common locations referenced in vaping-related discussions and offer clues about where individuals vape. These insights can strengthen current tobacco regulations and prioritize new policies to improve public health. This study identified commonly referenced locations in vaping-related discussions on Twitter in 2018. Methods: Vaping-related posts to Twitter were obtained from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. Rule-based classifiers categorized each Twitter post into 11 location-related categories (social venues, living spaces, stores, modes of transportation, schools, workplaces, healthcare offices, eateries, correctional facilities, religious institutions, and miscellaneous) using a data dictionary of location-related keywords (n = 290,816). Results: The most prevalent category was social venues (17.9%), followed by living spaces (16.7%), stores (15.9%), modes of transportation (15.5%), schools (14.9%), and workplaces (11.9%). Other categories pertained to: healthcare offices (2.0%), eateries (1.2%), correctional facilities (0.7%), and religious institutions (0.4%). Conclusion: This study suggests that locations related to socialization venues may be priority areas for future surveillance and enforcement of smoke-free air policies. Similarly, development and enforcement of similar policies at workplaces, schools and multi-unit housing may curb exposure to secondhand and thirdhand aerosol among the public.

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