E-cigarettes glamorized on social media – putting youth at risk

Social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Facebook used to overwhelmingly show the use of e-cigarettes in a positive light, undoing some of the positive work done to ban the advertising of traditional tobacco. According to Curtin University’s research, young people who see social media posts featuring e-cigarettes are more likely to vape and have a favourable attitude toward e-cigarettes. This is true for both e-cigarette advertising and user-generated content, with creators effectively doing the marketing job for e-cigarette companies. TikTok also emphasizes tricks and downplays harms, which may shape norms around e-cigarette use and increase the perception that e-cigarette use is socially accepted.

Governments must take a hard stance against recreational vaping among young people, as well as restrict e-cigarette advertising, marketing, and sponsorship on social media. Greater regulation of e-cigarette content and promotion is required to prevent further uptake and harm. This includes requiring social media platforms to report on how they ensure compliance with legislation.

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