Traditional tobacco advertising has been banned in Australia for decades. However, e-cigarettes are widely promoted on social media. Some forums have content policies that prohibit the promotion of the use of tobacco products.
Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook portray e-cigarettes in a positive way. This makes it look like e-cigarette use is common and socially accepted. Traditional tobacco advertising has been banned in Australia for decades. However, e-cigarettes are widely promoted on social media. Some forums have content policies that prohibit the promotion of the use of tobacco products. But our new study, published this week, shows that these policies are routinely violated.
The trend of e-cigarettes is increasing due to positive videos: The use of e-cigarettes is increasing rapidly among the youth of other countries including Australia. Positive messages on social media regarding e-cigarettes may have an impact on youth, who are the most frequent users of social media. In some cases these messages were also shown to be openly targeted towards teenagers. Research shows that youth who see posts related to e-cigarettes on social media are more likely to vaping (inhaling cigarette smoke) and to view e-cigarettes positively.
TikTok Emphasizes Tactics and Minimizes Harm: In our recently published study, we looked at the ways in which e-cigarettes are being advertised and promoted on TikTok. We analyzed 264 user-generated videos of e-cigarettes in English and evaluated them against TikTok’s own content policy in February 2022. We found that the majority of videos (98 percent) portrayed e-cigarettes positively. More than a quarter of the videos clearly violated TikTok’s content policy and promoted the purchase of vaping products.
Only a few videos had health warnings. Only 2 percent of posts described vaping or nicotine as an addiction. Popular posts described vape tricks (such as creating shapes when inhaling aerosol smoke). Studies show that teens often start smoking e-cigarettes to try vaping tricks. Videos violating the content policy often also provided information on how and where to purchase e-cigarette products. It also provided links to online retailers and other social media accounts.
So what should happen? We cannot depend on social media platforms to formulate and enforce content policy. Social media policies are often violated without major consequences. There is a need to emphasize on the implementation of the policies. In this, it should be mandatory for the social media platforms to tell how they are ensuring the implementation of the rules. Existing policies are insufficient to prevent the promotion of pro-e-cigarette content on TikTok. There is a need for comprehensive regulation on e-cigarette material and its promotion.
Disclaimer:Prabhasakshi has not edited this news. This news has been published from PTI-language feed.