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The Influence of Social Media on Adolescents' E-Cig Use

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Erin Vogel, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 28) Grant #: 28FT-0015 Award: $177,646
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards
Abstracts

Initial Award Abstract

E-cigarette use in adolescence is associated with subsequent smoking initiation, especially among those who would otherwise be at low risk. As such, it is important to understand the social factors influencing teens’ e-cigarette use. Social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram) use may be influential because it provides rich information about peers’ behavior, including e-cigarette use, and is nearly universal among adolescents. Exposure to e-cigarette ads increases young people’s curiosity about e-cigarettes, intentions to use, and actual use. Social media content may have an even stronger influence because it shows peers’ behavior. This study will be among the first to examine the effects of peer-generated social media content on adolescents’ e-cigarette use and to explore their perceptions of social media content related to tobacco products.

In Study 1, participants will view social media posts that were supposedly made by peers or by advertisers, and that are related or unrelated to e-cigarettes. Then, they will report their willingness to use e-cigarettes. Study 2 will use interviews with adolescent social media users to identify common themes in their experiences with social media content, and their perceptions of the effects social media has on their willingness to use e-cigarettes.

Given the alarming associations between adolescent e-cigarette use and subsequent initiation of smoking, this project would provide timely data on a potentially important source of adolescents’ exposure to e-cigarette content: social media. Conclusions from both studies will inform the development of social media messages aimed at preventing teen tobacco product use. The applicant’s research program aims to understand and address the role of digital technology in adolescent and young adult nicotine and tobacco use. Her long-term career goal is to develop digital interventions to prevent adolescent and young adult tobacco product use, as an independent researcher.