57% of young people in Spain consider that smoking is fashionable because it is done by actors, ‘streamers’, ‘influencers’ and other public figures on social networks. This alarming figure is one of the results of the latest study published by the Observatory of the Spanish Association Against Cancer, which concludes that “the influence of social networks among teenagers and young people has made them normalize new forms of consumption”, especially, electronics. cigarettes or vapors. In addition, they associate them with positive aspects and not with their harmful effects on health. According to the latest EDADES survey, as of 2022, by the Ministry of Health, 44% of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 have tried electronic cigarettes, more than double the number in 2016.
“For about a year and a half or two, they promoted themselves on social media as something ‘cool’ and harmless, and we are seeing exponential growth. A few years ago many e-tobacco stores opened, but they close quickly. However, Now it is different,” says Isabel Nerín, head of the Smoking Unit at the University of Zaragoza.
“The big problem is that they are the gateway to tobacco consumption, as we see in studies conducted in Canada and the United States, where these products began to be consumed,” he adds.
91.3% of the young people surveyed had at least one exposure to “digital smoke” through social networks in the last 30 days. In addition, it is the fact that 97.5% of teenagers admit that they are a regular user of at least one of these platforms, which is why the observatory considers that the degree of influence among teenagers is high and is behind some distorted perceptions have concerning. these devices.
The report also shows that 44.8% of those surveyed consider that smoking helps to get through complicated psychological situations, 44.1% admit that it makes them seem more interesting and 36.5% consider that smoking makes it easier to make new friends or game
Marketing the vapers
Social networks have become the channel of normalization for this habit. “They advertise on the Internet as if it were a product that is harmless, but it is not,” says Nerín, who denounces that although they are advertised as nicotine-free products, many times they contain nicotine among the ingredients , in addition to other harmful to health. In fact, the term ‘Evalu’, an acronym in English for pulmonary injuries associated with electronic cigarettes, was already invented for the conditions caused by the chemicals in vapers.
On the other hand, these devices are pending regulation and therefore there are some prohibited marketing techniques of traditional tobacco used, such as the variety of flavors or innovative and attractive designs. “Flavored cigarettes have been banned because they facilitate inhalation and it is an extra motivation to smoke. However, in vapers it is allowed,” said Nerín.
“It is an attempt by the tobacco industry to have new customers, because they are losing and there are more and more restrictions on smoking in certain places. It took a lot to change society. Now there is more awareness and smoking a cigarette is not so much fashionable again or as well seen as a few decades ago. We see that, with this, there is a setback, “he concluded.