User and Content Characteristics of Public Tweets Referencing Little Cigars

Am J Health Behav. 2016 Jan;40(1):38-47. doi: 10.5993/AJHB.40.1.5.


Objectives: Compared to cigarettes, little cigars and cigarillos (LCC) are minimally regulated, affordable, and widely available to young people. Because Twitter is a preferred mode of communication among younger people, product portrayals may be useful for informing both interventions and public health or tobacco policy.

Methods: A mixed-methods study was implemented to analyze the content of public tweets (N = 288) and profile photos sampled from a search of 2 LCC brands (Black & Mild and Swisher Sweets). Metadata and manifest attributes of profile photo demographic features and tweet message features were coded and analyzed. Thematic analysis of the tweets was conducted using an iterative immersion/ crystallization method.

Results: Tweeters were most often boys or men (63%) and appeared young (76%). Prevalent content themes included expressing affiliation for the LCC product and reporting smoking activity. Although men and women tweeted affiliation for LCC products and reported smoking activity in similar numbers, women were significantly less likely to tweet about blunting than men.

Conclusions: Twitter provides a potentially potent source of nuanced information about how young people are using little cigars. These observed characteristics may be useful to inform counter-messaging strategies and interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tobacco Products / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult