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Health communication and social media : : A case study of the California Tobacco Control Program's "Toxic Butts" campaign


Background : In 2011, CTCP awarded a contract to San Diego State University to create a tobacco product waste (TPW) "toolkit" of materials for use by local tobacco control coalitions funded by CTCP. Part of this toolkit was a social media campaign, to function as a case study. No large-scale effort had been made to disseminate information regarding the environmental impact of TPW to the public. The "Toxic Butts" campaign collaborated with several organizations, including the Legacy Foundation, the California Youth Advocacy Network (CYAN), and the Surfrider Foundation. Aims : 1) To evaluate the characterizations of messages on Facebook and Twitter referencing cigarette butts. 2) To evaluate the performance of a social media campaign ("Toxic Butts") using seven Key Performance Indicators (KPI's). 3) How should global tobacco control involve social media in monitoring and countering tobacco industry activities. Methods : In Chapter 2, 960 Facebook posts and 1,890 Tweets were randomly selected and coded by content analysis. Posts and tweets were stratified and evaluated (Pearson's and Fischer's exact test), with Facebook compared to Twitter. Chapter 3 included a content analysis of 78,073 messages across a variety of media types on the Internet. Messages broadcast during the three pre-campaign months and six campaign months were stratified to seven- day periods. Mean differences in all messages pre- and during campaign were evaluated with two-way independent samples t-tests. Mean differences in messages pre- and during campaign for Facebook, Twitter, and in news coverage were evaluated with independent samples t-tests. In Chapter 4, a literature review is conducted and best practices from the "Toxic Butts" campaign shared, by means of a policy analysis. Results: In Chapter 2, all categories of messages referencing cigarette butts on Facebook and Twitter during the study period were identified, and differences in the use of these categories between the two sites were discovered. In Chapter 3, there was shown to be a significant increase in messages across media types relating to the environmental hazard of cigarette butts, pre-campaign compared to campaign. Performance metrics used by the campaign identified the reach of campaign materials and engagement of social media users with the campaign. Conclusions : Results from these preliminary analyses have important implications for the development of health communication campaigns in social media, and particularly for the development of monitoring and evaluation techniques of such campaigns. The methods and results of these studies appear to indicate that a cost-effective approach could be used by global tobacco control to monitor and intervene in tobacco industry activities in social media

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