News Media Coverage of E-Cigarettes: An Analysis of Themes in Chinese Newspapers
News media play an important role in shaping public perceptions of e-cigarettes and influencing relevant policies. This study aims to describe the prominent themes in the Chinese newspaper reporting of e-cigarettes and examine how the salience of themes changed over time. Quantitative content analysis and qualitative thematic analysis of 639 e-cigarette-related news stories from 2014 to 2019 were conducted. Seven themes were found: health impact, usage, smoking cessation, youth, regulation, industry development, and description of e-cigarettes, with industry development being a unique theme in Chinese newspapers compared with newspapers in other countries. Although the health impact theme remained dominant throughout all time periods, the other themes showed different salience at different time periods, and e-cigarette reports increasingly focused on regulation in recent years. Frequent reporting by Chinese newspapers on e-cigarette-related research, legislation, and social problems in other countries, based on foreign media coverage, might point at an international media agenda setting effect.