Influencers who promote vaping could see their content go up in a puff of smoke following a ministerial investigation into how vaping products are promoted to young people on social media apps Instagram and Tiktok.
With some 2.8 billion views of the hashtag #vaping on Tiktok, you could be forgiven for thinking that the app’s attempts at safeguarding against promoting vaping are falling short. In the UK, 60% of Tiktok users are aged 24 and underand research last year revealed that 7% of 11-17 year olds were “current users’ of vapes.
Professor Andrew Bush, from Imperial College London’s National Heart and Lung Institute, has urged ministers to push for a ban on colourful, appealing packaging of vapes and has now asked for a further investigation on how these devices are promoted on social media.
Vaping Content Moderation On Tiktok
Currently, users are not allowed to promote vapes or tobacco products on the platform but e-cigarettes are still widely shown on the app with users featuring the colourful devices in videos and popularising sounds related to using e-cigarettes.
When users search for content related to vaping, there is a warning presented before the content, guiding users to learn more about the effects of vaping and drinking on the mind and body.
However, this has not reassured experts.
Speaking to The Mirror, Professor Andrew Bush, from Imperial College London’s National Heart and Lung Institute said, “I don’t remember nicotine gum ever being featured in attractive adverts with a beautiful woman using it. It is the industry who are funding these people or so-called influencers, likely giving them free vapes. They all know tobacco is on its way out and want to make vaping the next big thing.”
This news also comes following an investigation that revealedthat shops are selling nicotine vapes to children. A 13 year old undercover shopper bought a number of vapes, equating to around 100 cigarettes in just one day.
A Third Of Vaping Products Aren’t Compliant with UK Trading Standards
While we don’t fully know the long-term effects of vaping, according to the NHS, the short term side-effects can include:
Coughing, dry mouth and throat
Mouth and throat irritation
Shortness of breath
However, further cause for concern has been raised by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. The professional association found that a third of products have incorrect or absent health warnings, over-capacity tank sizes, a higher-than-permitted concentration of nicotine, contain CBD or are incorrectly labelled. The institute also stated that underage sales were “snowballing, and getting out of hand.”
How To Quit Vaping
If you’re looking to stop vaping entirely, the NHS advises:
Reducing the frequency of your vaping over time
Aim for a gradual reduction of the strength of nicotine in your e-liquid
The NHS also emphasises not rushing the process, especially if you started vaping as a route to quitting smoking.