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Tob Prev Cessat. 2017 Jul;3. pii: 119. doi: 10.18332/tpc/74709. Epub 2017 Jul 3.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Electronic cigarette content on Instagram and Pinterest.

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University of Louisville, United States.



This study examined electronic cigarette (e-cig) content in visual materials posted on the social-media platforms Instagram and Pinterest. Both platforms allow users to upload pictures to the internet and share them globally. Users can search for pictures tagged with specific keywords and phrases.


Using content analysis, this study identified themes in image postings of e-cigs on social media. During five weeks of data collection, keywords were used to identify pictures related to e-cigs. These pictures were then coded into one or more categories.


The three most popular categories for Instagram posts were marketing, customization and juices/flavors. The three most popular categories for Pinterest posts were customization, marketing and memes.


Because of the persuasive power of visuals, it is important to examine communication on Instagram and Pinterest as well as the specific visual messages communicated. Stores and manufacturers use these and similar platforms to communicate with users and potential users; thus it seems that marketers are capitalizing on opportunities for persuasive appeal. The results highlight the popularity of e-cig content on these two social media platforms and reveal an emphasis on marketing and customization.


Instagram; Pinterest; e-cigarette; social media

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICT OF INTERESTS The authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.

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