A South Korean study examines the quantity and the nature of electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, coverage in South Korea. E-cigarettes have become globally popular in recent years, with many countries reporting rapid increases in the number of e-cigarette users.
In 2013, 2.0% of adult males used e-cigarettes. That number increased to 4.4% in 2014 and 7.7% in 2015. E-cigarette usage increased rapidly among South Korean youth. Of the South Korean adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18, 0.5% of them have ever used e-cigarettes in 2008. That number went up to 9.4% in 2011. These increases can be attributed to the implementations of strong, comprehensive tobacco control measures in recent years.
The study found that news coverage of e-cigarettes increased in 2014 and 2015. The story topics indicated that South Korean news media were more likely to present e-cigarettes as a policy issue than a health issue. In the recent two years, the majority of news articles(61.1%) were published.
A large majority of the articles(85.0%)were either balanced or neutral toward e-cigarettes. Most articles were more likely to address potential drawbacks rather than benefits. E-cigarette benefits and drawbacks were mostly from news coverage being unbalanced and more likely to talk about health risks than benefits.
The overall tone of the news stories was largely unfavorable. This suggests that public sentiment in South Korea has been rather negative than positive toward e-cigarette vaping. Journalistic practices rely heavily on established routine sources and focusing on the stories that can attract larger audiences might have affected the way e-cigarettes were presented in the news.
For the full study: https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699017696881
Kim, S.-H., Thrasher, J. F., Kang, M.-H., Cho, Y. J., & Kim, J. K. (2017). News Media Presentations of Electronic Cigarettes: A Content Analysis of News Coverage in South Korea. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 94(2), 443–464. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699017696881