Date of Award
Computer and Information Science
Middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students have increasingly begun using the Juul, which is a type of e-cigarette. In fact, in 2017 a study showed that “2.1 million high schoolers and middle schoolers used e-cigarettes” (Richtel and Kaplan, 2018). The reason why my research specifically addresses the Juul is that it “is now the largest e-cigarette brand measured by retail sales companies” (Huang et al., 2018b). Studies have been done to show the short time it takes for a child to lose autonomy over tobacco use, ranging from 2 to 30 days of first inhaling a cigarette (DiFranza et al., 2007). What are the potential consequences of a nicotine addiction for developing youth? Nicotine is widely believed to inhibit normal mental development. (Goriounova and Mansvelder, 2012). Additionally, youths are much more susceptible to nicotine relative to adults (Goriounova and Mansvelder, 2012). Companies have claimed that they are unintentionally trying to market their product to youth and that a Juul’s primary purpose is to act as an alternative to currently smoking adults above the age of 35. Recently from The University of Mississippi Medical Center, a documentary came out about vaping in Mississippi (Remedy, Aired 08/30/18). Nicotine aside, is it healthy to breath in propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin after being heated? To summarize, more middle, high school, and college students are beginning to use e-cigarette products. More specifically, they are using the most popular e-cigarette product, the Juul. Because we know the dangers of nicotine addiction in developing brains coupled with the uncertainty of the safety of the chemicals within a vape device in general, strong concern for youth from associations such as the FDA and cancer society has succeeded in putting pressure on the Juul company to discourage young students from partaking in their products. Recently at the completion of this thesis, the FDA has been a force to be reckoned with. In order to understand the appeal of Juul, one can examine the tweets of those who mention the Juul. Additionally, in order to understand the total appeal of the Juul from twitter, one should explore its perception in di↵erent age and gender demographics, a method which has not been widely explored to date. As far as I am aware, this is the first attempt to make a model which takes into account gender and age demographics. This is a complicated task considering that Twitter does not provide age and gender information about their users. Why is this problem important to my research, scientific, and academic community? Computer Scientists have the ability to dive into Large Data questions and have a moral responsibility to look into the safety of the younger generation. The Honors College at Ole Miss states that it seeks to prepare citizen scholars who are fired by the life of the mind, committed to the public good and driven to find solutions. This is a citizen question, because many of my contemporaries partake in Juuling and I am driven to help explore the nature of their subsequent nicotine addiction and the nicotine addiction of those younger than us. My computer science department states that it seeks to enable its undergraduate students to master the fundamental principles of computing and to develop the skill needed to solve practical problems using contemporary computer-based technologies and practices. Data analyses is a growing field in Computer Science, and I will have the opportunity to use these skills to help solve this problem. Lastly, the scientific community is eagerly trying to understand the e↵ects of vaping and how to produce some oversight on this industry. Understanding each demographic (age and gender) attraction to the product through Twitter content will allow one to compare which aspect of the Juul is most appealing to each age band. Further research into this may begin to uncover particular ways to help the FDA combat the current youth epidemic in terms of knowing where to cut o↵ the appeal of the Juul at its source. I have collected as many tweets which contain content regarding #Juul, normalize the data, determine whether or not a tweet comes from a person or an organization, identify the age and gender of each Twitter user, and implement LDA (Latent Dirichlet Allocation) Topic Modeling and Association Rule Mining on the processed data. From this information, I will determine the most popular topics regarding Juul in each demographic as well as rules which reveal correlations between the Juul and other words from the tweets. This information will provide useful knowledge that can be utilized when considering how best to implement Juul policy while waiting to better understand its e↵ect on health.
McFann, Thomas, "Understanding Juuling Trends Among Differing Age and Gender Demographics Through Social Sensing" (2019). Honors Theses. 1066.