This cross-sectional study examined price-related promotions for tobacco products on Twitter.
Through the Twitter Firehose, we obtained access to all public tweets posted between 6 December 2012 and 20 June 2013 that contained a keyword suggesting a tobacco-related product or behaviour (eg, cigarette, vaping) in addition to a keyword suggesting a price promotion (eg, coupon, discount). From this data set of 155 249 tweets, we constructed a stratified sampling frame based on the price-related keywords and randomly sampled 5000 tweets (3.2%). Tweets were coded for product type and promotion type. Non-English tweets and tweets unrelated to a tobacco or cessation price promotion were excluded, leaving an analytic sample of 2847 tweets.
The majority of tweets (97.0%) mentioned tobacco products while 3% mentioned tobacco cessation products. E-cigarettes were the most frequently mentioned product (90.1%), followed by cigarettes (5.4%). The most common type of price promotion mentioned across all products was a discount. About a third of all e-cigarette-related tweets included a discount code. Banned or restricted price promotions comprised about 3% of cigarette-related tweets.
This study demonstrates that the vast majority of tweets offering price promotions focus on e-cigarettes. Future studies should examine the extent to which Twitter users, particularly youth, notice or engage with these price promotion tweets.