Reduced harm or another gateway to smoking? source, message, and information characteristics of E-cigarette videos on YouTube

J Health Commun. 2014;19(5):545-60. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2013.821560. Epub 2013 Oct 11.


E-cigarettes are widely promoted on the Internet, but little is known about what kinds of information about them are available online. This study examines message, source, and health information characteristics of e-cigarette videos on the popular online video-sharing platform YouTube. A content analysis of 365 e-cigarette videos indicates that 85% of the videos were sponsored by marketers. These videos highlight e-cigarettes' economic and social benefits, featuring a low level of fear appeal and negative message valence and a high level of marketing information about e-cigarette products. They also convey certain health claims that have been proscribed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the prevalence of which warrants ongoing monitoring and regulatory guidelines for online e-cigarette marketing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Health Information / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Marketing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Tobacco Products*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Videotape Recording / statistics & numerical data*