School & District Management

Where Do Teens Learn About Vaping? Social Media, Report Finds

By Alyson Klein — November 04, 2019 1 min read
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How are teens finding out about vaping? Social media is a major source, according to a new poll published Monday by Common Sense Media, a San Francisco based non-profit that studies the impact of technology on children and young people.

Nearly 1 in 4 teens say they first learned about vaping on social media, according to the poll. That’s second to finding out about it from a friend or another person. A plurality—44 percent of teens—say they first heard about vaping from someone they know. Nine percent said they found out about it from a TV show or movie. And 4 percent learned about it from an ad in a store, on the radio, on a website, or on a podcast.

And social media keeps vaping top-of-mind for teens, according to the survey. Nearly 60 percent say they’re likely to see a post that mentions or shows vaping. Instagram and Snapchat users are the most likely to encounter vaping on social media. About three-quarters of Instagram and Snapchat users say they see vaping on the content on those platforms. And 64 percent of YouTube viewers say they’ve seen vaping content.

So what kind of content are we talking about? Ads, mostly. More than 60 percent of the vaping related content teens see is ads, compared to content shared by a friend (40 percent), or promoted by celebrities and influencers (25 percent).

But those ads aren’t necessarily pro-vaping. In fact, 72 percent of teens said the ads were about the “risks or harms associated with vaping.” Just 34 percent promoted the idea that vaping is “healthier than smoking cigarettes.” And 38 percent said they’d seen ads on how to stop vaping, versus 15 percent who said they say ads on how to use vaping devices.

Despite all this, vaping is popular among teens. And it’s happening in schools. Nearly 80 percent of teens said that vaping is popular among people their age, where they live. More than a third of teens said they’d seen a classmate vape. And more than half of teens say they see vaping monthly.

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Photo: Shift manager Shaun Miller exhales vapor while working behind the vape bar at Generation V on Nov. 19, 2018, in Omaha, Neb. Source: Kent Sievers/Omaha World-Herald via AP

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.