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The potential of the internet as a medium to encourage and discourage youth tobacco use
  1. K M Ribisl
  1. Correspondence to:
 Kurt M Ribisl, PhD, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440, USA; 


The internet is fast becoming a new battleground between tobacco control advocates and pro-tobacco forces, and this new media will certainly have a greater impact on tobacco use behaviour in the future. This paper reviews how the internet can encourage youth smoking by providing youth access to tobacco products and offering content that glamorises smoking lifestyle and culture, particularly in hundreds of websites and chat rooms. These sites feature pictures of celebrity smokers, provide information about smoking in movies, and provide smoking advice to teen smokers. In contrast, youth smoking is discouraged on online grassroots advocacy and countermarketing websites. Although these strategies show promise, more research is needed to evaluate their impact. Recommendations are made for future research to study pro-smoking internet content and ways to counteract it, as well as to monitor the online activities of the tobacco companies. Finally, some of the challenges in addressing tobacco related internet content are discussed.

  • adolescence
  • youth access
  • internet
  • marketing
  • regulation

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