Experts in Australia are now worried that the proliferation of TikTok videos is causing many more young Australians to start using electronic Cigarettes. According to experts, TikTok videos entice youth vaping. This is likely to cause a more serious problem as it erodes the gains made in reducing tobacco use in the country.
Now the experts want parents to be vigilant and check out what their children watch online as many social medial posts are now openly glamorizing vaping. This is especially true because algorisms for various social media platforms such as Tik Tok do not work to help and instead let content glamorizing e-cigarette use reach a wider audience. The problem is that most of these videos are by young people and are made to target teenagers who are not mature enough to make informed choices concerning substance use.
A recent university of Queensland survey of TikTok videos using hashtags such as #nicotine, #juulgang, #vapenation, and #Vapetricks among many others found that these videos are some of the most watched on the platform. The report that was published in the Journal Tobacco Control analyzed 808 of the most popular videos under vape-related hashtags on Tik Tok and found that a majority of those products showed vaping in a positive light and most of them have been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.
This revelation is a big blow to those trying to end vaping in the country as studies have shown that exposure to vaping marketing and related materials increased the chances of adolescents using e-cigarettes in the future. According to Corey Basch, an American health expert, this study’s revelations are true because the algorithms of TikTok still allow videos to proliferate more widely than other social media platforms.
Dr Basch further adds that if a user interacts with content showing vaping products even once, then the person will continue seeing related content on the platform for a longer period as the algorithm interprets the interaction as a vote of confidence in such content. Given that the majority of TikTok users are young adults and teens then most of the users on the platform may see this content on daily basis. This can have a huge impact on the decision these TikTok users make.
Vaping generally is viewed more positively than cigarette smoking even among government officials. This is because despite not being very safe, they have been able to achieve verifiable success in helping smokers quit smoking. The problem is the growing uptake of vaping by teenagers and young adults who have never smoked before. This is likely to lead to a health crisis in future because many recent studies have linked vaping products to the same health risks as smoking.
A survey conducted by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation found that 74% of young adults who have tried e-cigarettes, they first used the substance out of curiosity. In October 2021 Australia made it illegal for people to purchase vapes without a doctor’s prescription. However, the presence of many TikTok videos promoting vaping products creates a ready illegal underground market for those of use underground channels to illegally selling these products in Australia.