In a recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers from Pennsylvania investigated the role of indicators of mental health conditions in the relationship between the use of social media and e-cigarette use among the youth. They found that the symptoms of anxiety and depression mediate the association between the use of social media and e-cigarettes among the youth.
About 2.55 million school students in the United States (US) use e-cigarettes, the most popular tobacco product among the country’s youth. While e-cigarettes may be useful in aiding smoking cessation, they contain nicotine and other toxic chemicals associated with lung and cardiovascular diseases. Given the youth’s extensive use of social media, e-cigarette brands are widely promoted using social media platforms, positioning e-cigarettes as seemingly better alternatives to smoking. As a result, previous studies have shown an increased use of e-cigarettes by social media users as compared to non-users.
Mental health problems are also shown to be associated with increased experimentation and use of e-cigarettes in the youth. Evidence suggests that e-cigarette users are more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression and stress. Further, previous studies indicate an increased influence of social media on females’ mental health than males. However, there is a lack of studies examining the potential influence of mental health condition indicators on the association between the use of social media and e-cigarettes among the youth. Therefore, this study aimed to test the hypothesis that mental health condition indicators may mediate the increased use of e-cigarettes associated with social media use among the youth while checking for potential gender-based differences in the mediation.