Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name




Author's Keywords

Appalachian region; tobacco regulation; electronic cigarettes; vaping; social media


In May 2016 the FDA deemed e-cigarettes a tobacco product. The “deeming rule” gave regulation to e-cigarettes where none had existed prior. Some of the regulations included: prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, prohibiting giving away free e-cigarette products, requiring FDA-approved warning labels on e-cigarette packaging, and requiring pre-market authorization of all new e-cigarette products. The consequences of these regulations primarily affected e-cigarette manufacturers and vape shops, where most e-cigarette sales take place. In July 2017 the FDA announced an extended timeline for some e-cigarette regulations, citing the reason as having limited research on if, and how, e-cigarettes can be used as a smoking cessation tool.

This research focuses on how vape shops use Facebook to communicate about FDA e-cigarette regulations, and whether socioeconomic factors influenced their communication. Facebook posts from six vape shops in two socioeconomic areas of Kentucky were evaluated using an inductive thematic analysis to determine the emerging themes and sub-themes. Four main themes related to the FDA regulations were found: FDA Regulations; Health, Smoking Cessation, and Education; Discounts and Giveaways; and E-liquids. Each theme was characterized by distinct sub-themes, which shared similarities and differences between the two socioeconomic areas.

Lay Summary

E-cigarettes are the most prevalent tobacco product used by youth in the U.S., yet the long-term health effects are unknown. The FDA announced regulations of e-cigarettes in 2016, deeming them a tobacco product. This study evaluates how vape shops in different socioeconomic areas of Kentucky responded to the regulations by analyzing content they shared on Facebook. Posts from six vape shops were evaluated using an inductive thematic analysis to determine the prevalent themes and sub-themes.