Just as influencers helped make vapes this generation’s Tamagotchis, public health officials are looking for big names get teens off the vapewagon.
Health Canada is currently looking for a contractor to develop, implement, and report on a national vaping awareness program, part of which includes identifying social media influencers who can create #authentic content about the risks associated with vaping.
“Canadians look for information from a variety of sources, and youth in particular are more likely to engage with other influencers beyond government, or health professionals,” said a spokesperson from Health Canada.
Last month the federal government passed a law to formally legalize and regulate vaping while curbing ads for cigarettes that promote the behaviour as a cool lifestyle choice. The appeal of vaping as a lifestyle is, of course, a product of social media, which makes the trend difficult to reverse with brick and mortar regulations.
Sure, the government can prohibit companies from making their liquid nicotine look like candy, but what can be done about Brandon with three million followers blowing the dopest cloud of all time?
In this regard, Health Canada’s aim to find social media stars who can turn responsible vaping into a lifestyle will be a tough task.
The federal government’s current stand on vaping is essentially that it’s not great, but better than smoking. Which can be said about pretty much anything, like eating Froot Loops for dinner.
According to a Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey from last year, 23 per cent of students in Grades 7-12 have tried e-cigarettes — up from 20 per cent in 2014-15. Ten per cent of students, or 206,000, had used an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days, an increase from 6 per cent in 2014-15.