Urgent action required on vaping videos on TikTok: Study

WION Web Team
Sydney, Australia Published: Jul 27, 2021, 05:29 PM(IST)

A man uses a vape device in this illustration picture. Photograph:( Reuters )

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A study published in the journal Tobacco Control observed that 808 popular vaping videos had been collectively viewed more than 1.5 billion times till November 2020

A group of researchers from Australia has called for urgent action on implementing age restrictions on TikTok videos to minimise the negative impact of such videos on teenagers.

Researchers from University of Queensland have analysed that the e-cigarette-related content shared by several users on TikTok is very popular on the platform. However, these videos can negatively impact children below the legal age.

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A study published in the journal Tobacco Control observed 808 popular vaping videos had been collectively viewed more than 1.5 billion times till November 2020.

Out of these almost a quarter of the people in the videos appeared to be younger than 18 years old. "The use of comedy, lifestyle references, nicotine addiction references, vaping tricks and 'how to' tutorials may create social norms around vaping and increase its social acceptance," the researchers said. "Considering vaping-related videos are widely accessible on TikTok, there is an urgent need to consider age restrictions to reduce youth uptake."

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As per the data, positive use of e-cigarette comprised 63 per cent of the total and was viewed more than 1.1 billion times, while the neutral depictions accounted for nearly 24 per cent.

Since TikTok is a new and popular platform and the algorithm is designed to reach a wider audience, such vaping videos stand a chance to spread faster on TikTok compared to other social media platforms.

"Because it's a relatively new platform, they also can potentially lack in regulations when it comes to effective age restrictions," Tianze Sun, a PhD student at UQ and the study’s first author explained. "Considering the accessibility of these videos to young people, we hope our study can impact future regulatory frameworks for all social media platforms around mandating age verification measures, particularly … on videos that are portraying vaping positively."

This study has come with the background that there has been a significant increase in vaping in young people in recent years.

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