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Exposure to tobacco on the networks is linked to increased consumption of tobacco products

PARIS, July 12 (Benin News) –

People who have seen tobacco content on social media are more than twice as likely to use tobacco than those who have not and, among those who have never smoked, more likely to use tobacco. consume in the future.

Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC), USA, analyzed data from 139,624 participants in a meta-analysis of 29 studies. The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, is based on data from different age groups, countries, content types and platforms, and is the first large-scale effort to link social media content and smoking.

“We scoured the literature on tobacco and social media and synthesized it all into a single association that summarizes the relationship between social media exposure and smoking,” says Scott Donaldson, first author of the paper. and senior research associate in the Department of Population Sciences and Public Health at the Keck School of Medicine. We found that these associations are strong and have public health implications at the population level.

These findings come amid growing concern about the potential harms of social media use, particularly among young people, say the authors, who note that they have built a compelling argument that smoking content in online has the power to influence the offline smoking of viewers.

“The proliferation of social media has provided tobacco companies with new ways to promote their products, especially to teens and young adults,” says Jon-Patrick Allem, PhD, assistant research professor in the Department of Population Sciences. and Public Health from the Keck School of Medicine and senior author of the article. We hope that policy makers and other stakeholders can use our study as a basis for decision and action.

Compared to people who did not report exposure to tobacco content, those who reported exposure were twice as likely to use tobacco in their lifetime, to report having used it in the past 30 days or to be likely to use tobacco in the future if they had never used it.

“The fact that people who had never used tobacco before were more susceptible is particularly significant,” adds Allem. This suggests that exposure to tobacco-related content can spark interest and potentially lead non-consumers to switch to smoking.

The sample included populations from the United States, India, Australia, and Indonesia. Teens made up 72% of participants, while young adults and adults made up 15% and 13%, respectively.

Tobacco-related content included both “organic” or user-generated posts, such as videos of friends smoking or vaping, and promotional material, including tobacco company advertisements or sponsorships .

The items represented in the posts ranged from cigarettes and e-cigarettes to cigars, hookahs and smokeless tobacco products. The tobacco content appeared on a range of social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Active engagement in smoking content (posting, liking, commenting, sharing, and searching for material) and passive engagement (just looking) were associated with lifetime use, recent use, and to the susceptibility of future use.

People who viewed content on two or more social media platforms faced even higher risks of use or susceptibility to use than those who viewed tobacco-related content on a single platform.

The researchers note that future research should use longitudinal or experimental designs to determine whether exposure to tobacco content on social media directly leads to smoking. The data used for the meta-analysis are mostly from surveys conducted at a single time point, so a causal relationship between viewing and usage has not yet been confirmed.

The authors of the study highlight three levels of action that can help combat the abundance of tobacco-related content on social media.

“First, we can work to design and implement interventions that neutralize the influence of pro-tobacco content, for example by educating teens about how the tobacco industry surreptitiously sells to them its products,” notes Mr. Allem.

Social media platforms may also put in place safeguards to protect users, especially young people, from tobacco-related content, for example by including warning labels on posts that include words or images related to tobacco. They add that regulators could also choose to impose stricter limits on how tobacco companies can promote their products online.

The study authors then plan to analyze smoking prevention campaigns on social media to determine their effectiveness and the users they reach. They also intend to dig deeper into the specific platforms used by young people, such as TikTok, and explore how videos of various tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, can influence susceptibility.

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