Misleading Popular Videos Impact Attitudes About Tobacco

Misleading portrayal of tobacco health consequences can increase positivity toward featured product.
Misleading portrayal of tobacco health consequences can increase positivity toward featured product.

HealthDay News — Misleading portrayals of tobacco's health consequences in popular YouTube videos can increase positivity toward featured products including hookahs and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), according to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Dolores Albarracin, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and colleagues recruited 350 young adults who viewed 1 of 4 highly viewed YouTube videos containing misleading health statements about chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, hookahs, and pipe smoking and also a control YouTube video not related to tobacco products. 

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The researchers found that, compared with the control videos, the videos about e-cigarettes and hookahs led to more positive attitudes about the featured products. These effects did not fully translate into attitudes toward combustive cigarette smoking. Compared with the chewing and hookah videos, the pipe video led to more positive attitudes toward combustive smoking. More positive attitudes toward combustive cigarette smoking resulted from the e-cigarette video than the chewing video.

"In the context of our findings, young adults should be trained in identifying and resisting contents that appear on social media, but share many of the characteristics of peer pressure to use unhealthy products," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text