Introduction The rising popularity of TikTok among adolescents may influence their awareness and perceptions of e-cigarette use via user-generated content. This study aimed to examine how e-cigarette/vaping-related videos are portrayed on TikTok.
Methods The nine most viewed hashtag based keywords were used to identify popular e-cigarette/vaping-related videos on TikTok (n=1000) from its inception (earliest upload date: January 2019) to November 2020. Five researchers independently coded the number of views, likes, user category and theme.
Results A final sample of 808 e-cigarette/vaping-related videos that met study criteria were included. Collectively, these videos were viewed over 1.5 billion times, with a median view count of 1 000 000 (range 112 900–78 600 000) and a median ‘likes’ count of 143 000 (range 10 000–1 000 000). A majority of the videos portrayed e-cigarette use positively (63%; collectively viewed over 1.1 billion times). Neutral depictions of e-cigarette use were viewed a total of 290 million times (24%) and negative depictions of e-cigarettes were viewed a total of 193 million times (13%). The video themes included (not mutually exclusively): ‘comedy and joke’ (52%; total of 618 million views), ‘lifestyle and acceptability’ (35%; 459 million), ‘marketing’ (29%; 392 million), ‘vaping tricks’ (20%; 487 million), ‘nicotine and addiction’ (20%; 194 million), ‘creativity’ (16%; 322 million) and ‘warning’ (11%; 131 million).
Conclusion Our findings illustrated that positively framed e-cigarette and vaping-related postings available without age restrictions on TikTok—a rising video-sharing platform that is popular among adolescents—have been viewed many times. Effective age restrictions are needed to reduce adolescents’ potential exposure to videos that portray vaping positively.
- electronic nicotine delivery devices
- advertising and Promotion
- social marketing
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Contributors TS, GC and CL conceptualised the study concept and design. TS and CL guided data extraction analysis and cleaned and analysed the data. TS, JC, CT, LD, BC collected and coded the data. All authors drafted and revised the paper. GC supervised the study.
Funding TS holds a top-up scholarship from the NCYSUR, which received funding from the Department of Health, Australian Government.CL is funded by NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship (APP2005317)GC is funded by a NHMRC Investigator Grant (APP1176137).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.