New smokeless tobacco (eg, snus and dissolvable tobacco products) and nontobacco nicotine products (eg, e-cigarettes) have emerged in recent years amid widespread speculation about locations of test marketing, toxic constituents, and consumer targeting. The New Product Watch was a pilot online monitoring system aimed at filling these information gaps by using a form of crowdsourcing: recruiting volunteers to visit local retailers and report their findings. With very little funding, the New Product Watch gathered county-specific data on new product availability in 19 states as well as trend data on product marketing and demand, and completed 2 rounds of product purchases and subsequent toxic constituent analyses. Data were collected over a 2-year period, between 2009 and 2011. Despite the successes, we found that this small-scale, volunteer effort was not a sustainable method for ensuring continuous, systematic surveillance of new product availability, marketing, and toxicity.
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