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      For or Against Tobacco Control: Sponsored Tobacco Advocacy Messages on Facebook and Instagram

      1 , 2
      Nicotine & Tobacco Research
      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Abstract

          Introduction

          This study explores sponsored tobacco advocacy messages on Facebook and Instagram by: (1) Examining differences in message performance metrics, funding sources, and audience characteristics of anti- and protobacco messages in the United States, and (2) Characterizing audience exposure to anti- and protobacco message themes across different age-groups and by gender.

          Methods

          The analysis sample consisting of 375 tobacco-advocacy related messages on Instagram and/or Facebook in the United States from May 29, 2020 to July 26, 2020 was obtained from the Facebook Ad Library Application Programming Interface. Chi-square tests compared differences in anti- and protobacco messages by potential reach, impressions, approximate spend ($), social media platform type, average duration of delivery, type of funding sources, and audience age and gender exposure. Percentage distribution of message themes and audience exposure by age and gender were also examined.

          Results

          Antitobacco messages (n = 334, 89.07%) exceeded protobacco messages (n = 41, 10.93%) overall. Antitobacco messages had lower potential reach, received a lower proportion of impressions, and spent a lower proportion of money per message. Protobacco advocacy was funded primarily by the tobacco industry and advocacy groups. A small fraction of antitobacco advocacy messages reached young adults and men. Among protobacco advocacy messages, a majority of messages highlighting tobacco regulations, addiction, citizen advocacy, flavors, and impact on economy reached mostly men.

          Conclusion

          Results illustrate important gaps in current sponsored antitobacco advocacy efforts, demonstrate the feasibility of monitoring sponsored tobacco advocacy on these platforms, and offer insights for future antitobacco advocacy campaigns.

          Implications

          Future antitobacco advocacy efforts on social media may consider more focused efforts in reaching young adults and men and in leveraging strategic social media analytics to improve their overall potential reach and impressions.

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          Most cited references27

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          How Does the Tobacco Industry Attempt to Influence Marketing Regulations? A Systematic Review

          Background The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control makes a number of recommendations aimed at restricting the marketing of tobacco products. Tobacco industry political activity has been identified as an obstacle to Parties’ development and implementation of these provisions. This study systematically reviews the existing literature on tobacco industry efforts to influence marketing regulations and develops taxonomies of 1) industry strategies and tactics and 2) industry frames and arguments. Methods Searches were conducted between April-July 2011, and updated in March 2013. Articles were included if they made reference to tobacco industry efforts to influence marketing regulations; supported claims with verifiable evidence; were written in English; and concerned the period 1990–2013. 48 articles met the review criteria. Narrative synthesis was used to combine the evidence. Results 56% of articles focused on activity in North America, Europe or Australasia, the rest focusing on Asia (17%), South America, Africa or transnational activity. Six main political strategies and four main frames were identified. The tobacco industry frequently claims that the proposed policy will have negative unintended consequences, that there are legal barriers to regulation, and that the regulation is unnecessary because, for example, industry does not market to youth or adheres to a voluntary code. The industry primarily conveys these arguments through direct and indirect lobbying, the promotion of voluntary codes and alternative policies, and the formation of alliances with other industrial sectors. The majority of tactics and arguments were used in multiple jurisdictions. Conclusions Tobacco industry political activity is far more diverse than suggested by existing taxonomies of corporate political activity. Tactics and arguments are repeated across jurisdictions, suggesting that the taxonomies of industry tactics and arguments developed in this paper are generalisable to multiple jurisdictions and can be used to predict industry activity.
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            New media and tobacco control.

            This paper reviews how the tobacco industry is promoting its products online and examines possible regulation models to limit exposure to this form of marketing. Opportunities to use new media to advance tobacco control are also discussed and future research possibilities are proposed. Published articles and grey literature reports were identified through searches of the electronic databases, PUBMED and Google Scholar using a combination of the following search terms: tobacco or smoking and new media, online media, social media, internet media, Web 2.0, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. A possible obstacle to fully realising the benefits of regulating tobacco marketing activities and effectively communicating tobacco control messages is the rapid evolution of the media landscape. New media also offer the tobacco industry a powerful and efficient channel for rapidly countering the denormalising strategies and policies of tobacco control. Evidence of tobacco promotion through online media is emerging, with YouTube being the most researched social media site in the tobacco control field. The explosive rise in Internet use and the shift to these new media being driven by consumer generated content through social platforms may mean that fresh approaches to regulating tobacco industry marketing are needed.
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              Is Open Access

              Tweeting for and Against Public Health Policy: Response to the Chicago Department of Public Health's Electronic Cigarette Twitter Campaign

              Background In January 2014, the Chicago City Council scheduled a vote on local regulation of electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. One week prior to the vote, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) released a series of messages about electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) through its Twitter account. Shortly after the messages, or tweets, were released, the department’s Twitter account became the target of a “Twitter bomb” by Twitter users sending more than 600 tweets in one week against the proposed regulation. Objective The purpose of our study was to examine the messages and tweet patterns in the social media response to the CDPH e-cigarette campaign. Methods We collected all tweets mentioning the CDPH in the week between the e-cigarette campaign and the vote on the new local e-cigarette policy. We conducted a content analysis of the tweets, used descriptive statistics to examine characteristics of involved Twitter users, and used network visualization and descriptive statistics to identify Twitter users prominent in the conversation. Results Of the 683 tweets mentioning CDPH during the week, 609 (89.2%) were anti-policy. More than half of anti-policy tweets were about use of electronic cigarettes for cessation as a healthier alternative to combustible cigarettes (358/609, 58.8%). Just over one-third of anti-policy tweets asserted that the health department was lying or disseminating propaganda (224/609, 36.8%). Approximately 14% (96/683, 14.1%) of the tweets used an account or included elements consistent with “astroturfing”—a strategy employed to promote a false sense of consensus around an idea. Few Twitter users were from the Chicago area; Twitter users from Chicago were significantly more likely than expected to tweet in support of the policy. Conclusions Our findings may assist public health organizations to anticipate, recognize, and respond to coordinated social media campaigns.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Nicotine & Tobacco Research
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                1469-994X
                November 01 2021
                October 07 2021
                May 28 2021
                November 01 2021
                October 07 2021
                May 28 2021
                : 23
                : 11
                : 1861-1868
                Affiliations
                [1 ]American Cancer Society, Washington, DC, USA
                [2 ]Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
                Article
                10.1093/ntr/ntab111
                f526234a-9ac6-4d21-9599-aed88cb33c67
                © 2021

                https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model


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