A study of vaping videos on TikTok by Australian researchers found that there is an “urgent need” for age restrictions to reduce teens’ exposure to videos that positively portray vaping. University of Queensland researchers analysed e-cigarette content posted by TikTok users globally and are now calling for tighter regulations to prevent nicotine products being promoted to underage users of the video-sharing platform.
The study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, evaluated the content of 808 popular vaping videos that had been collectively viewed more than 1.5 billion times as of November 2020. The videos had a median count of 1 million views each, according to a story posted by The Guardian.
The videos that portrayed e-cigarette use positively comprised 63 percent of the total and were viewed more than 1.1 billion times, while neutral depictions accounted for 24 percent. The researchers estimated that a quarter of the people in the videos appeared to be younger than 18, while 71 percent were male.
“The use of comedy, lifestyle references, nicotine addiction references, vaping tricks and ‘how to’ tutorials may create social norms around vaping and increase its social acceptance,” the researchers concluded. “Considering vaping-related videos are widely accessible on TikTok, there is an urgent need to consider age restrictions to reduce youth uptake.”
Tianze Sun, a PhD student at UQ and the study’s first author, said the researchers were interested in looking at how e-cigarette use was portrayed on TikTok, given the app’s popularity among young people. “Because it’s a relatively new platform, they also can potentially lack in regulations when it comes to effective age restrictions,” she said.
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