Regardless of its original intended use as a cigarette replacement for adult smokers, there is now no doubt that vaping is widespread among teens. Nearly eight in 10 (78%) say vaping is popular among people their age where they live, and one third (33%) say they see classmates vaping in school a few times a week or more often.
These data come from a new Common Sense Media|SurveyMonkey poll that asked teens about their perceptions of vaping—in particular their exposure to vaping-related content on social media.
When thinking about their typical experience using social media, 59% of teens say they’re likely to see a post that mentions or shows vaping. When asked specifically, 11% say they see posts that mention vaping “almost every time” they use social media, 25% say they see them “often,” 30% “occasionally,” 23% “rarely,” and 10% “never.”
Most of the vaping-related content that teens are seeing, according to them, is advertisements (61%) rather than content shared by a friend (40%) or shared by celebrities, personalities, or influencers (25%).
More often than not, the messages teens are seeing online are against vaping rather than promoting or glorifying it. More than twice as many teens say they’ve learned about “risks or harms associated with vaping” as say they’ve heard that “vaping is healthier than smoking cigarettes” (72% vs. 34%). Similarly, more than twice as many teens say they’ve seen content related to “how to stop vaping” as “how to use vaping devices” (38% vs. 15%).
Just over half of teens (52%) say vaping is “about as harmful as smoking,” while 31% say it’s more harmful and 17% say it’s less harmful than smoking.
The exposure that teens get to vaping-related content on social media clearly affects their perceptions. Among those teens who say vaping is less harmful than smoking, 43% say they’ve gotten messages online telling them that “vaping is healthier than smoking cigarettes,” compared with just 26% among teens who think vaping is more harmful than smoking or 35% who think vaping and smoking are equally harmful.
For the full results, click through the interactive toplines below.
Read more about our polling methodology here.
How popular is vaping among people your age where you live?
How much have you heard about vaping in the news recently?
Do you think vaping is less harmful, more harmful, or about as harmful as smoking cigarettes?
Thinking back, how did you first learn or hear about vaping?
How often do you see classmates vaping in your school?
Which of the following social media platforms have you used in the last 12 months?
Thinking about your typical experience using social media, how likely are you to see a post that mentions or shows vaping?
How often do you see posts on social media that mention or show vaping?
On which platforms have you seen posts that include vaping?
On which platform have you most frequently seen posts that include vaping?
Where have the vaping-related posts that you’ve seen on social media come from?
What messages have you received about vaping online?
Have you ever shared a post that mentioned or showed vaping?