Tobacco control in a changing media landscape: how tobacco control programs use the Internet

Am J Prev Med. 2014 Mar;46(3):293-6. 
Authors: Emery S, Aly EH, Vera L, Alexander RL Jr.

From the accepted, unedited manuscript:

Background: Over 80% of US adults use the Internet; 65% of online adults use social media; and more than 60% use the Internet to find and share health information.

Purpose: State tobacco control campaigns could effectively harness the powerful, inexpensive online messaging opportunities. Characterizing current Internet presence of state-sponsored tobacco control programs is an important first step toward informing such campaigns.

Methods: A research specialist searched the Internet for state-sponsored tobacco control resources and social media presence for each state in 2010 and 2011, to develop a resource inventory and observe change over six months. Data were analyzed and websites coded for interactivity and content between July and October, 2011.

Results: While all states have tobacco control websites, content and interactivity of those sites remain limited. State tobacco control program use of social media appears to be increasing over time.

Conclusion: Information presented on the Internet by state-sponsored tobacco control programs remains modest and limited in interactivity, customization, and search engine optimization. These programs could take advantage of an important opportunity to communicate with the public about the health effects of tobacco use and available community cessation and prevention resources.

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