York University: Influence of Social Media on Popularity of E-cigarettes Among Young Users

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York University: Influence of Social Media on Popularity of E-cigarettes Among Young Users
York University researchers find that e-cigarette advertising on social media, often endorsed by celebrities and influencers, boosts their popularity among young users.

A research conducted by York University researchers has found that the proliferation of e-cigarette advertising and content on social media, often endorsed by celebrities and social media influencers, is fueling the popularity of e-cigarettes among young users.


The findings of this study were published in the journal "PLOS Global Public Health". Researchers conducted 11 investigative studies on various social media networks such as Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. The review states that they found evidence indicating that common marketing strategies for e-cigarettes have resulted in increased user numbers and intention to use among young individuals.


They also discovered that these strategies have led to an increase in the number of young people starting to use e-cigarettes and an overall increase in e-cigarette consumption. Some of these marketing strategies include sponsorships from celebrities and social media influencers, as well as a focus on the attractiveness of e-cigarette liquids, including flavors and nicotine content.


The lead author of the study, Luana Chacon Santos from the Department of Health Sciences at York University, states, "It is becoming increasingly evident that the normalization of e-cigarette use amongst young people may lead to a recurrence of harmful patterns observed in the old tobacco industry. Social media platforms have become a powerful marketplace for e-cigarette sales, highlighting the urgent necessity for stricter legislation to address the issues in this domain.


Researchers investigated studies in English-speaking countries, analyzing the impact of social media advertising of e-cigarettes on populations aged 10 and above.


Most of the studies included in the review were conducted in the United States, where research on e-cigarettes has been steadily increasing. This could be linked to the outbreak of e-cigarette use or e-cigarette-related lung injuries and deaths that occurred in 2019.


Dr. Su Golder, assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences at York University, has stated that it is common to encounter different sub-theories within the scope of this review. However, it is worth noting that all of our studies have presented the same results. Exposure to this type of propaganda can indeed have an impact on young people, making them more likely to experiment, initiate, or even increase their smoking habits. While we would like to say that further research is needed, it is abundantly clear that action needs to be taken promptly, as we can already see what is happening.


The British government has recently announced measures to ban disposable e-cigarettes and prohibit stores from promoting disposable e-cigarettes to children. However, these measures do not include any restrictions on promotional activities on social media platforms.


Santos added, "Any measures aimed at reducing minors' exposure should also include restrictions on the online sale of these products on social media."


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