Nearly half of the people who use e-cigarettes do so to quit tobacco smoking, a new study suggests.
According to researchers at San Diego State University, social media may hold the clue as to why people are vaping in the first place.
Aside from quitting tobacco, researchers found that other motives for vaping included taste and their “cool factor” as some would describe it.
As published in the journal PLOS ONE, public health surveillance expert John W. Ayers skipped the traditional survey method and decided to gather data directly from people’s own social media comments.
“Just look at surveys from the recent presidential election or Brexit as examples of surveys’ weakening ability to gauge public sentiment, attitudes or behaviors,” Ayers said.
In the study, researchers mined through a whopping 3 million public tweets about vaping between 2012 and 2015.
After filtering out spam, advertisements, and retweets, the data was analyzed to understand better why people choose e-cigarettes.
During 2012, it was found that quitting tobacco products, like cigarettes, was the most common reason for switching to e-cigarettes; it was measured in nearly half (43 percent) of all tweets.
Social image, which measured at 21 percent, came in second place. The ability to use indoor smoking product followed with 14 percent, tasty flavors (14 percent), perceived safety (9 percent), cost (3 percent) and agreeable odor (2 percent).
However, by 2015, tweets on reasons for using e-cigarettes had changed. Quitting tobacco products and ability to use indoors dramatically plunged as a clear motive. Instead, social image became the most popular rationale, measuring in at 37 percent of all tweets.
“The reasons people vape shifted away from cessation and toward social image during the time that e-cigarettes evolved from a cessation device to a freestanding tobacco product attracting smokers and nonsmokers alike,” said Jon-Patrick Allem, one of the study’s coauthor and fellow at the University of Southern California’s Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science.
“By utilizing Twitter, we can make public health more data-driven and understand vapers or those thinking of vaping,” he added.
Monitoring social media data should be a common practice in the health community. So, with that notion in mind, we decided to conduct our own Facebook survey — once again.
But this time, we did something different.
The Vaping Market Survey
To get a better idea of why e-cigarettes are so demanding, we came up with the idea to survey numerous vape shops across the United States.
We asked 14 vape shops through Facebook in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming; one in each state to survey their clients with the following question: “What convinced you to purchase a vape?”
Within a few days, we received the data needed to complete our survey. And surprisingly enough, our data was very similar to Axyer’s study. Below is an infographic with the results.
In our study, we found that the biggest motive for purchasing e-cigarettes at a vape shop was to quit tobacco products, about 84% of all participants agreed; California, New York, Minnesota, and South Carolina were the most popular states for this motive.
Meanwhile, the second biggest motive for purchasing e-cigarettes was the “cool factor,” in which 76 percent of all participants agreed; Florida, Wyoming, and Arizona were the most popular states for this motive.
The third biggest motive was “taste” with 54% of all participants; Colorado and North Carolina were the most popular states. “Cost” followed as the fourth biggest motive at 51% of all participants; Georgia was the most popular state for this motive. “Tolerable odor” was the fifth biggest motive with 47%; Alabama, Texas, and Utah were among the most popular states for this motive. And lastly, “perceived safety” came in last as the least popular motive for purchasing a vape at 39%; Pennsylvania was the most popular state for this motive.
Bottom line: Our study provided reassurance at the notion that vape stores are selling more products because of three primary reasons: quitting tobacco, the cool factor, and taste. When speaking with business owners, they all agreed that the best way to wean off tobacco is using an e-cigarette.