Puff bars, anti-smoking policy circumvention and nicotine addiction: analysis of the content of tweets

Background: Puff Bars are e-cigarettes that have continued to market flavored products by exploiting the United States Food and Drug Administration’s exemption for disposable devices.

Goal: This study aimed to examine Puff Bar-related discussions on Twitter to identify themes of tobacco control regulation and policy as well as unintended outcomes of regulatory gaps.

Methods : Of 8519 original Puff Bar-related tweets collected from July 13, 2020 to August 13, 2020, a random subsample of 20% (n=2661) was selected for qualitative coding of topics related to nicotine addiction and smoking. tobacco control policy.

Results: Of the human-coded tweets, 2,123 (80.2%) were coded as relevant to Puff Bar as the main topic. Of these tweets, 698 (32.9%) discussed smoke-free policy, including flavors (n=320, 45.9%), regulations (n=124, 17.8%), shopping (n = 117, 16.8%) and other products (n = 110, 15.8%). Approximately 22% (n=480) of tweets referenced addiction, including lack of access (n=273, 56.9%), appetite suppression (n=59, 12.3%) , frequent use (n = 47, 9.8%) and self-reported dependence (n = 110, 22.9%).

Conclusion : This study adds to the growing evidence base that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban on e-cigarette flavors has not reduced interest, but rather shifted the discussion to brands using a loophole that allowed flavored products to continue to be sold in disposable devices. Until comprehensive smoke-free policy legislation is developed, new products or loopholes will continue to meet the demand for nicotine.


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Jenny T. Curlee