Online Information about Harmful Tobacco Constituents: A Content Analysis

Tobacco products and smoke contain over 7,000 chemicals (i.e., constituents). Research shows that consumers have poor understanding of tobacco constituents and find communication about them to be confusing. The current content analysis describes how information is communicated about tobacco constituents online in terms of source, target audience, and message. A search was conducted in September 2015 using tobacco constituent and tobacco terms and identified 226 relevant websites for coding. Websites were coded for type, target audience, reading level, constituent information, type of tobacco product, health effects, and emotional valence by two coders who independently coded half of the sample. There was a 20% overlap to assess inter-rater reliability, which was high (kappa = 0.83, p <0.001). The mean reading grade level of information online was 8.2 (SD =2.8) with 81.7% of websites above the 6(th) grade reading level. Nearly all websites presented information in a qualitative narrative format (93%) and almost half (48.2%) presented information in a quantitative format. Nicotine (59.3%) and nitrosamines (28.8%) were the mostly frequently mentioned tobacco constituents. Cancer was the most frequently mentioned health effect (51.3%). Nearly a quarter (23%) of the websites did not explicitly state that tobacco constituents or tobacco products are associated with health effects. The authors concluded that large gaps exist in online information about tobacco constituents including incomplete information about tobacco constituent-related health effects and limited information about tobacco products other than cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. This study highlights opportunities to improve the content and presentation of information related to tobacco constituents. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is required to publicly display a list of tobacco constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke by brand. However, little is known about tobacco constituent information available to the public. This is the first systematic content analysis of online information about tobacco constituents. The analysis reveals that although information about tobacco constituents is available online, large information gaps exist, including incomplete information about tobacco constituent-related health effects. This study highlights opportunities to improve the content and presentation of public information related to tobacco constituents. Authors: Margolis KA, Bernat JK, Keely O'Brien E, Delahanty JC. ;Full Source: Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2016 Aug 30. pii: ntw220. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][Epub ahead of print] ;[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]