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Social Content & Smoking Habits

The glamorization of vaping among the youth has caused a spike in use.

There’s a common saying, “You are what you eat,” meaning that if you want to be healthy, you need to eat healthily. However, what about other things we “consume?” A recent research study focused on the impact of young adults and social media consumption, and their habits were fascinating! The tobacco content that participants viewed and interacted with was a strong predictor of their tobacco habits.

The year-long research study considered all major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, YouTube, Tumblr, and Snapchat. Investigators asked research participants several questions both at the beginning of the study and at the end about their engagement with tobacco-related content.

Here are the questions:

(For this article, we include electronic nicotine delivery systems as tobacco-related products).

  1. Had they seen content related to tobacco?
  2. Had they engaged with it, meaning had they:
  3. Signed up for email alerts?
  4. Read articles?
  5. Watched videos?
  6. Had they shared content related to it?
  7. Had they liked or followed tobacco brands?

Researchers also collected information about whether participants had ever used tobacco-related products previously. Based on their answers, they were categorized into groups based on their tobacco use. Researchers were interested in three different outcomes related to where they began:

  1. Initiation: Was someone more likely to start using tobacco products based on the content they saw or engaged with?
  2. Escalation: Was someone more likely to use more tobacco products based on the content they saw or engaged with?
  3. Persistence: Was someone more likely to keep using tobacco products based on the content they saw or engaged with?

As you may have guessed, there was an increased risk of initiation, escalation, and persistence for encountering tobacco-related content on social media. The risk of starting or continuing to smoke was even greater for those who actively engaged with the content online and self-reported their activity.

Most interesting was the finding that these patterns held true when researchers controlled for demographics like age, socioeconomic circumstances, race, gender, etc.

Beyond the research, the bigger picture is to consider your surroundings for those trying to quit smoking. Who do you follow, and how does it affect your habits? If the people and companies you listen to are telling you your unhealthy behavior is “normal,” it has the power to change your habits.

Are you trying to quit? Start by cleaning out your social feed. Follow people, brands, and organizations that empower your healthy choices rather than those that tempt and lead you to unhealthy ones.

Are you looking for something worth following? Consider following the experts at ALYKA Health to support your health goals today. 

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