Social Media Use among Teens Linked to Growing Use of Tobacco Products

In Education

A recent study by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) reveals the effectiveness of the tobacco industry’s marketing strategies, especially on social media, which glamorize smoking through candy-flavored products, celebrity endorsements, and social settings, targeting youth.

Social media use increases risk of teens engaging in tobacco products

The study featured in Addictive Behaviors discovered a connection between regular social media use and heightened chances of youth experimenting with tobacco products, including vaping, within a year. Those who didn’t use tobacco previously but engaged with social media daily were 67% more inclined to start smoking compared to less frequent users. Additionally, active interaction with tobacco marketing, such as liking or following content from major tobacco brands, further increased the risk of first-time tobacco use among youth.

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are extensively used by young individuals, increasing worries about their exposure to advertisements promoting harmful products. Although cigarette smoking rates among American youth have decreased significantly since the 1990s, around 10% of middle and high school students, roughly 2.8 million, presently use tobacco products, with many engaging in dual use, especially with e-cigarettes.

Tobacco advertising on social media exacerbating smoking issue

The research highlights the ongoing public health concern of tobacco use and emphasizes the necessity for further investigation into the role of tobacco advertising on social media in exacerbating this issue. Dr. Lynsie Ranker, the study’s lead author, emphasizes the importance of understanding the detrimental effects of social media use among young people and how industries like tobacco are exploiting these platforms to target youth.

Dr. Ranker and team analyzed data from the US Population Assessment for Tobacco and Health study, exploring links between social media activity and tobacco initiation risk among American youth aged 12 and above. They focused on data from 2014-2016, identifying 8,672 non-tobacco users. Results showed that 63.5% of them used social media daily, with 3.3% engaging with tobacco brands on these platforms.

Engaging directly with tobacco brands on social media increases the likelihood of youth starting to use tobacco products, with a higher chance of using multiple products.

Mobile Sliding Menu