• June 15, 2024

Social Media Use Linked to Youth Vaping

 Social Media Use Linked to Youth Vaping
Photo: Alessandro Biascioli

In a recent study published in Thorax, researchers found associations between the use of social media platforms and the risk of combustible cigarette smoking and vaping among youth.

The study,  is based on a survey of almost 11,000 young British people ages 10 to 25 who were tracked from 2015 through 2021.

Overall, 8.5 percent said they currently smoked, 2.5 percent said they vaped and about 1 percent did both,

How much time they spent on TikTok, Instagram and other social media platforms tracked well with their odds of smoking or vaping, the study found.

Just 2 percent of people who reported no social media use engaged in cigarette smoking, but that rose to 17 percent among those who said they were on social media seven-plus hours per day.

Similarly, less than 1 percent of those who avoided social media vaped compared to 2.5 percent of those who used it seven or more hours daily.

Graham Wheeler, honorary senior lecturer in the Imperial Clinical Trials Unit at Imperial College London and statistics director for Statistical Innovation in Specialty and Primary Care at GSK, said the results of this large study are similar to the findings of other research into the association of social media use and smoking habits.

“However, the researchers didn’t record the social media platforms used or how the users interacted with friends on these platforms. For example, are stronger associations seen amongst users of TikTok or Instagram compared to Whatsapp?” Wheeler was quoted as saying by HealthDay.

“Social media use is self-reported so may not be an accurate record of actual use.

“The researchers also assessed how the interaction of social media use and variables such as age, household income and sex were associated with cigarette and e-cigarette use. However, they did not report the interaction of social media use with parental use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, which is one of the strongest variables associated with children’s smoking habits. We don’t know if this trend of higher odds of being a smoker increasing with social media usage changes when comparing children of parents who are smokers and children of parents who are not smokers.

“This survey reports responses given at a single point in time rather than following nonsmokers over time to see if the likelihood of them taking up cigarette smoking or e-cigarette use is associated with increasing levels of social media use.”