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What Can Customers See? Exposed Information on E-Cigarette Online Retail Website: A Systematic Review.

BACKGROUND: The internet is the main channel for electronic nicotine delivery systems sales that the media uses to publicize electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Once e-cigarettes entered the market, they quickly became widely available online and in retail stores in many countries and regions around the world. This systematic review aims to explore the online marketing strategies for e-cigarette retail websites including the design of e-cigarette retail websites and how the information of retail websites was exposed to the public.

METHOD: Studies were searched in five databases: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, EMBASE, Web of Science, Communication & Mass Media Complete, and PubMed. Included studies were published between 2007 and 2019.

RESULTS: Eight studies were included in this review. Topics covered included smoking cessation claims, nicotine content claims, health or harmful substance exposure claims, age restriction/verification, membership and discounts, and media and celebrity effect. Most of the claims included information about the benefits of e-cigarettes, such as helping to quit smoking, being more environmentally friendly than traditional paper cigarettes, and not containing nicotine. Common marketing techniques included celebrity endorsements, showing discounts or membership offers, or getting a link to buy from the media.

CONCLUSIONS: The marketing of e-cigarettes is complex, and the authenticity of the information presented on the websites needs to be thoroughly understood. Such information will undoubtedly increase the interest and desire of potential buyers for e-cigarettes. Therefore, it is critical to establish necessary regulations regarding e-cigarette product information.

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