A study published in Substance Use & Misuse (2021) examined the characteristics of popular social media posts related to electronic nicotine delivery systems ENDS on the social media network, Instagram.
Content analysis was performed using the Content Appealing to Youth (CAY) index. Over 700 posts were collected from August 2019 – December 2019 by searching the Instagram hashtags, #vape and #vapelife.
Nearly all of the images were color photographs and 84% featured an ENDS device (mod) as the focal point.
Instagram posts featuring ENDS are visually appealing and like cigarette packaging, may have the capacity to influence perceptions about the product.
The authors conclude that since it is culturally normative for appealing images to be shared on Instagram, greater attention should be placed on media literacy skills to educate young adults about ENDS viewed on social media.
We suggest that substance use prevention professionals also harness the power of appealing images used in marketing and advertising to persuade youth to actively avoid e-cigarette use.
Guided by the Behavior-Image Model (BIM), prevention programs and messages should couple appealing images of youth and young adults engaged in health-promoting behaviors like physical activity, nutrition, and sleep with the need to avoid vaping e-cigarettes to achieve positive behavior and self-identity outcomes.
In addition, asking young people to set goals to avoid e-cigarette consumption while increasing healthy lifestyle behaviors will help them develop multiple behavior self-efficacy and self-regulation skills leading to greater physical and mental wellbeing.
Learn more about BIM: https://academic.oup.com/her/article/22/5/677/566675?login=false
Read the research abstract: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10826084.2021.1899233