Internet searches reflect vaping's surge

News Brief by Ursula Biba

“Vape,” which means to smoke from an e-cigarette, was named 2014’s word of the year. The term’s newfound popularity, as shown by its word of the year status and increased use in internet searches, has prompted researchers to study the effects of the term’s widespread use on smoking behaviors and attitudes.

 One co-study between researchers at San Diego State University and the University of North Carolina states that as the number of internet searches about vaping increase, more people use these searches to determine how to purchase vapes instead of learning about their effects. Vapes were released commercially in the mid 2000s and have since become extremely popular in the U.S., but their regulation has not been updated. Researchers believe that unregulated marketing and advertising techniques are the root cause of vaping’s exponential increase in popularity. Even though there is little scientific evidence that claims vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking, vape usage is only expected to increase in the future. This, along with the fact that only 1% of e-cigarette web searches are performed to learn about their safety, leads health professionals to believe that they may have a health crisis on their hands.

 To combat these issues, researchers are exploring the significance of the use of the term “vape” instead of “e-cigarette.” Findings reveal that vaping is used more often because of the absence of the historically negative connotation many associate with e-cigarettes. With this, researchers and health advocacy groups need to distance themselves from the term “e-cigarette” to both increase the accuracy of their studies’ findings through surveys and questionnaires and to create more effective anti-smoking campaigns.

 

San Diego State University. "Internet searches reflect vaping's surge: A new study finds that  people searching for vaping-related terms are interested in shopping, not health." ScienceDaily.  ScienceDaily, 11 February 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160211082249.htm>.