A study conducted by the University of Queensland says that TikTok needs to introduce regulations around vaping.
Researchers at the University of Queensland analysed and evaluated the content of over 800 of TikTok’s most-viewed vaping videos. Collectively, the TikToks amassed over one billion views.
The study found that 63 per cent of vaping videos were portrayed in a positive light. Crucially, vaping and e-cigarettes don’t fall under the same marketing laws as tobacco does.
In Australia, it is illegal to publish or broadcast messages that encourage people to start or continue smoking tobacco, but e-cigarettes are exempt as long as they don’t contain tobacco.
Currently, TikTok’s community guidelines state that it bans: “Content that suggests, depicts, imitates, or promotes the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, or drugs by a minor.”
However, it fails to mention vaping.
The popularity of vaping is undeniable on the platform: the hashtag #Vaping_community has over 3 million views, #Vaping_Vibes has over 2.6 million views, while #vapinggirl has over 58k views. Interestingly, #stopvaping has over 102.2 million views.
The app also doesn’t apply any age restrictions to vaping content.
While the promotion of vaping may seem harmless, the Alcohol and Drugs Foundation (ADF) has found that people using e-cigarettes are three times more likely to smoke combustible tobacco than those who have not used e-cigarettes.
News reported that the co-author of the study, Dr Gary Chan, said: “Videos that showed vaping tricks had a significantly higher number of views at 487 million, compared to videos about nicotine and addiction at only 195 million.”
“They (TikTok) are actively promoting this content to young people.”
There has yet to be a study that directly links TikTok to the rising popularity of vaping.
However, statistics show that in general, vaping among young people has increased significantly in recent years.
The TGA found that between 2015 and 2019, e-cigarette use by young people increased by 72 per cent in the US, 150 per cent in Canada and 96 per cent in Australia.
Despite these concerns, TikTok is yet to start policing vaping videos.
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