From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Exploring user-generated content to understand online debates on e-cigarettes

The study is a cross-programme collaboration with the Gender and Health programme.

The rise of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) over the past decade has resulted in considerable media attention and heated debates over the depiction of e-cigarettes in the media, their harms and benefits and different stakeholders’ interests in the topic. Despite the fact that e-cigarette use is now a worldwide phenomenon, very little qualitative research has been conducted on the depiction of e-cigarettes in the online media and the public’s reaction to such media coverage. This project is the first to analyse user-generated content, including online responses to a number of recent BBC news stories related to e-cigarettes and their regulation, to investigate responses to UK media coverage on, and public opinion about, e-cigarettes. The analysis of the data focuses on the depiction of e-cigarettes in news media, the participants and stakeholders in online debates on e-cigarettes (including smokers, non-smokers and other members of the public, tobacco-industry affiliated stakeholders, public health advocates) and arguments for and against e-cigarettes and their regulation.

This project is expected to have substantial societal impact and knowledge exchange value. In particular, its results will be directly relevant to the work of policy-makers responsible for introducing e-cigarette regulations in the near future and public health advocacy groups that operate in the area of tobacco harm reduction.