Social Media Usage Tied to Rising Vaping Among Youth

Social Media Usage Tied to Rising Vaping Among Youth

A recent analysis of data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, encompassing the years 2015 to 2021, has uncovered a correlation between the amount of time young people spend on social media and their likelihood of smoking and vaping. The research, which surveyed 10,808 individuals between the ages of 10 and 25, indicated that those who engaged with social media for more than seven hours per day were substantially more prone to smoke cigarettes and use e-cigarettes. Over 8.5% of the participants reported smoking cigarettes, 2.5% reported vaping, and a smaller percentage reported both behaviors.

The study suggests that social media platforms may play a role in promoting these habits through targeted advertising and the use of influencers paid by the tobacco industry. Additionally, the findings highlight the influence that social media companies could wield in reducing the exposure of young people to content that encourages smoking and vaping.

Parallel findings from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for grades 9 through 12, analyzed by the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, have also indicated a significant rise in electronic vapor product (EVP) use among adolescents from 2015 to 2019, with a slight decrease in 2021. Moreover, the research published in the journal Thorax points out that the risk of engaging in these activities doubles for young people who spend a minimum of seven hours on social media on weekdays.

Concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of current voluntary codes for social media content in preventing the promotion of smoking and vaping products to young audiences. Researchers and health experts are advocating for more stringent measures, including routine screening for vaping and nicotine dependence in adolescent health assessments, and stricter enforcement of bans on promotional material for tobacco and vaping products on social media platforms.


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