TIKTOK EMPHASISES TRICKS AND DOWNPLAYS HARMS
In our recently published study, we looked at the ways e-cigarettes are being advertised and promoted on TikTok. We analysed 264 English language user-generated e-cigarette videos and evaluated them against TikTok’s own content policy in February 2022.
We found most of the videos (98 per cent) portrayed e-cigarettes positively.
More than one-quarter of the videos clearly violated TikTok’s content policy and promoted vaping products for purchase.
Few videos contained health warnings. Only 2 per cent of posts referenced vape or nicotine addiction.
A small number of posts referred to public health professionals or commented on e-cigarette regulation. These posts were comparatively less popular, receiving a smaller proportion of views and likes.
Half the videos referred to a vaping community. These posts were slightly more popular than those that didn’t refer to a shared identity. This may act to shape norms around e-cigarette use and increase the perception that vaping is socially accepted.
Popular posts also included references to vape tricks (such as creating shapes from exhaled aerosol), with early research showing adolescents often identified vaping tricks as the reason they started using e-cigarettes. Posts also used humour, which is an effective tool to reach young social media users.
Videos that violated content policy often provided details on how and where to purchase e-cigarette products. This included providing links to online retailers and to other social media accounts.
The promotion of offers such as giveaways and sale prices were common, in direct violation of content policy. Many posts also provided product reviews.