Two new studies conducted by public health researchers at USC claim that music videos depicting the use of vaping and electronic cigarettes could indirectly promote youth vaping nationwide.

According to two new studies published by the University of Southern California, public health experts are getting billions of eyeballs on their products and are “potentially” influencing young people with what they claim is unrestricted advertising in music videos.

The pair of studies argues that these music videos leave an unregulated and relatively cheap promotional platform. Both studies were published in the journals Health Education & Behavior and the December 2020 issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research. The findings of both studies are concerning, according to the public health experts, because vaping is associated with a progression to combustible cigarettes and other acute lung injuries.

The visualizations of these products state the studies, also submits the hypothesis that underaged vaping could serve as a gateway to smoking in the future, and potentially other harmful behaviors. While the gateway effect remains a contested theory, the studies conclude that advertising regulations for deemed tobacco products should apply to mediums and genres that cover music videos that are available on the internet and TV.

“We know that behaviors are learned and reinforced through the observation of others’ behaviors, which makes these music video product placements problematic,” said Jon-Patrick Allem, assistant professor of research at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Keck was also the principal investigator for one of the studies. “For example, the music video for ‘I’m the One’ by DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber contains 8.5 seconds of specific product placements and scenes of models using vaping pens. This video alone has been viewed over 1.3 billion times on YouTube, delivering billions of impressions of vape pen product placement and use.”

Patricia Escobedo, a doctoral student and the lead author of one of the other papers, noted that music videos seen billions of times are “socializing forces for young adults, molding views of what is normative, attractive, and rewarding.” To sum up what these experts are arguing, vaping in popular music videos is apparently a public health crisis.

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Michael McGrady is a columnist for Vaping Post's English edition. He is a critically acclaimed journalist with awards and recognition from across the industry. He was a finalist for ECigClick's annual vape awards in 2019 and 2020, a KAC Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship Fellow in 2019, among other honours. He is also the host of Vaping Weekly, the Post's podcast. All articles express his own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the Editor's view.