FDA losing Instagram war on vaping

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An FDA campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of vaping isn't competing very well with Instagram posts encouraging the practice, a study published in the journal Frontiers in Communication.

The FDA launched its "The Real Cost" campaign in 2018 to raise awareness of the dangers of vaping, including the possibility of contracting e-cigarette, or vaping product, use-associated lung injury, which has sickened 2,668 people and killed 60 since the outbreak began in the middle of 2018.

Researchers collected 245,894 Instagram posts from before and after the #TheRealCost campaign was launched and found that Instagram posts promoting vaping outnumber anti-vaping content 10,000 to 1.

Moreover, vaping posts received nearly three times more "likes" after the FDA campaign launched.

"We focused on Instagram because the vaping influencers we interviewed for this study identified Instagram as their most important social media marketing platform," said Julia Vassey of the University of California-Berkeley, lead researcher of the study. "Based on the results, the FDA anti-vaping campaign is not very popular, and we saw Instagram user comments disputing the FDA claims of damaging health effects from nicotine and calling the campaign propaganda."

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