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May 4, 2023
What is influencing teens to vape? By Raze Ambassador, Andrea Thomas
Have you ever been influenced to buy a new product you’ve seen online rather you truly needed the item or not? I’m guilty of allowing influencers to control my buying behaviors. We tend to trust influencers from social media platforms more than we actually should. Influencers like celebrities, for example, create a profile designed to make us feel comfortable. Big name tobacco companies are secretly advertising tobacco products on social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter in hopes of attracting a teen following, which could turn into lifelong customers.
A popular situation among young people with large online following is to post imagines/videos of themselves using tobacco products as a part of their marketing strategy. When we see Kylie Jenner being praised for her ability to blow perfect smoke rings, or Miley Cyrus vaping onstage at her concerts, maybe a little part of us thinks this is cool. So, we try it. Parents don’t always have complete control of what their kids watch and sometimes purchase online. Many question: what is influencing teens to vape? Results from researchers at Stanford University suggest, the greater social media use in everyday life is followed by a greater influence and willingness to try vaping. This increases the message in someone's head that it is acceptable to vape when it is NOT. The study also shows an increased number of tobacco products based off Instagram style posts.
After interviewing my peers, they are familiar with how tobacco industries support influencers to sell vape and other tobacco products to youth. One of my friends follows Austin Lawrence, a 23-year-old self-proclaimed vape artist, with over six million followers across three social media platforms. He promotes vaping as a safter alternative to smoking cigarettes. People are impressed by his ability to blow various sizes of interconnected smoke rings in various directions floating around to a catchy hip-hop tune. My friend has admitted to trying this himself. He claims it is not as easy as it looks and he probably needs more practice. I am sure my friend is not alone. There are most likely lots of other young impressionable teens trying to imitate these impressive smoke rings. Chances are they will get hooked.
The goal of Raze is to steer teens in the right direction by helping young people realize that they are being lied to and manipulated by these influencers. Raze teaches us to “avoid liquid lies.” I just hope we can compete with Kylie Jenner, Miley Cyrus, and Austin Lawrence. We need to be smart enough to think for ourselves and realize that they are making money from us.
Digitale, E. (2020, February 19). Teens vulnerable to social-media promotion of vaping. Retrieved from Stanford Medicine: https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2020/02/19/teens-vulnerable-to-social-media-promotion-of-vaping/