From the Journals

Vaping device marketers take aim at youth through social media


 

FROM TOBACCO CONTROL

JUUL and JUUL-like products, popular vaping devices, are being promoted with a large volume of social media posts directed at young people with targeted messages and images, a study of e-cigarette promotion has found.

In 2018, the JUUL company declared a commitment to support efforts to raise the age of legal purchase of tobacco to age 21 years in all U.S. states. In addition, JUUL deleted its official Facebook and Instagram accounts in November 2018, but the promotion of these products has continued through affiliated marketing campaigns from other online vendors.

Vaping among teens has shot up in popularity in recent years. The prevalence of vaping among young people aged 16-19 years has been estimated at 16% in 2018, up from 11% in 2017 (BMJ. 2019 Jun 19. doi: 10.1136/bmj.12219. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics (2019;173[7]:690-92) found that an estimated 81% of users following a popular Twitter account (@JUULvapor) were aged 13-20 years, with 45% in the 13-17 year age range.

Elizabeth C. Hair, PhD, senior vice president of the Truth Initiative Schroeder Institute, and a team of investigators conducted a study of the “proliferation of JUUL-related content across four themes over a 3-month period: overt promotional content, nicotine and addiction-related content, lifestyle content, and content related to youth culture.” The study appeared online in Tobacco Control (2019 Jul 2; doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2018-054824).

The investigators did a content analysis of social media posts on Instagram related to JUUL and JUUL-like products from March 1 to May 15, 2018. Hash-tag keyword queries of JUUL-related posts on Instagram were collected from the Instagram application programming interface through NUVI, a licensed syndicator of the Instagram firehose. The researchers used 50 hashtags to capture and enumerate individual posts. Examples of the hashtags used are #juul, #juuling, #juulvapor, #juulpod, #switchtojuul, and #juulgang. All posts were included from the official JUUL account and JUUL-related accounts with the highest number of followers at the time of data collection (e.g., @juulcentral, @juulnation, @juul_university, @juul.girls).

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