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USC TCORS: Diffusion of Marketing Messages about Tobacco Products through Social Media

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Unger and Tess Boley Cruz

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health- TCORS Grant

ID number: 1P50CA180905-01

Award Date: 9/19/2013

Institution: University of Southern California

More information is needed about how individuals receive, perceive, and disseminate information about tobacco products, and how this information impacts tobacco product use. Investigators will monitor tobacco websites to describe the content of messages about emerging tobacco product risks and benefits, and determine whether the messages presented to vulnerable populations differ from the messages presented to less vulnerable populations. Investigators will also monitor social media sites (e.g., Twitter, YouTube) and online message boards to identify trends in product-related content over time; they will conduct automated content analyses to identify keywords, themes, and sentiments and determine whether new marketing campaigns and themes on the brand websites are subsequently disseminated through social media. Specific aims are: (1) to document how the tobacco industry communicates with potential customers online about risks and benefits of emerging tobacco products (e.g., snus, dissolvables, e-cigarettes, little cigars); (2) to understand how individuals respond to online tobacco messages by surveying and monitoring the online activity of 32 adults aged 21 and older; and (3) to understand and compare the characteristics and tobacco use patterns of 1800 online opinion leaders and non-leaders aged 21 and older to identify differences in socio-demographic characteristics (including gender, age, and ethnicity), perception of source credibility, attitudes and beliefs about tobacco, and tobacco product use. An increased understanding of the tobacco product messages appearing in social media and the role of social media in normalizing tobacco products may inform FDA regarding the production and dissemination of relevant social media communications to inform the public about tobacco use consequences.

USC Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science for Vulnerable Populations (TCORS) Related Resources

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