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Advances in Social Media Research to Reduce Tobacco Use

Cover of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, February 2024 edition.Social media is a broad term used to refer to websites and applications that are text-, image-, and video-based, enabling users to connect and interact with their social network and the broader community through sharing information and expressing viewpoints.1,2 Inadequate regulation, coupled with the ability to reach many people quickly and with minimal cost, has enabled the proliferation of harmful tobacco-related content on social media. Conversely, social media is also a promising medium to counteract positive social norms surrounding tobacco use, disseminate health information, and encourage cessation, though less is known about the reach and effectiveness of social media-based interventions to reduce tobacco use.

Social media platforms, tobacco products, and tobacco promotion are rapidly evolving and intersecting. New forms of nicotine/tobacco products (e.g. nicotine pouches, nicotine gummies) are using innovative promotional strategies such as influencer marketing on popular social media platforms that appeal to adolescents and young adults (AYAs). Tobacco control researchers and public health officials must stay current in this changing environment to better understand tobacco promotional strategies, assess their impact, and improve methods for analyzing social media content to inform policies and interventions. Considering the swiftly changing landscape, this special issue aims to showcase advancements in social media research aimed at reducing tobacco use.