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Characteristics of Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Exposure to and Engagement with Nicotine and Tobacco Product Content on Social Media

Cover of Journal of Health CommunicationAbstract

To inform policy and messaging, this study examined characteristics of adolescents’ and young adults’ (AYAs’) exposure to and engagement with nicotine and tobacco product (NTP) social media (SM) content. In this cross-sectional survey study, AYAs aged 13–26 (N=1,163) reported current NTP use, SM use frequency, and exposure to and engagement with SM content promoting and opposing NTP use (i.e. frequency, source[s], format[s], platform[s]). Participants who used NTPs (vs. did not use) were more likely to report having seen NTP content (p-values<.001). Prevalent sources were companies/brands (46.6%) and influencers (44.4%); prevalent formats were video (65.4%) and image (50.7%). Exposure to content promoting NTP use was prevalent on several popular platforms (e.g. TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat); exposure to content opposing NTP use was most prevalent on YouTube (75.8%). Among those reporting content engagement (i.e. liking, commenting on, or sharing NTP content; 34.6%), 57.2% engaged with influencer content. Participants reported engaging with content promoting and opposing NTP use on popular platforms (e.g. TikTok, Instagram, YouTube). Participants with (versus without) current NTP use were significantly more likely to use most SM platforms and to report NTP content exposure and engagement (p-values<.05). Results suggest that NTP education messaging and enforcement of platforms’ content restrictions are needed.


  • Erin A. Vogel
  • Lynsie R. Ranker
  • Paul T. Harrell
  • Joy L. Hart
  • Grace Kong
  • Scott McIntosh
  • Helen I. Meissner
  • Jenny E. Ozga
  • Dan Romer
  • Cassandra A. Stanton