Jennifer Whitehill is an assistant professor of well being promotion and coverage within the UMass Amherst Faculty of Public Well being and Well being Sciences. Credit score: UMass Amherst
Regardless of restrictions on paid promoting hashish on social media, most youngsters reported seeing marijuana advertising on Fb, Twitter and Instagram, in response to a public well being examine authored by College of Massachusetts Amherst harm prevention researcher Jennifer Whitehill.
Some 94% of adolescents surveyed mentioned that they had been uncovered to marijuana advertising both on social media, print media or on a billboard. As a result of hashish is an unlawful drug beneath federal legislation, federal restrictions prohibit or severely prohibit hashish firms from working adverts, even in states the place marijuana gross sales have been legalized for adults age 21 and over. Nationwide, as with alcohol, the sale of marijuana to anybody beneath age 21 is against the law. For each alcohol and marijuana advertising, extra state and federal promoting laws exist, particularly when a sure portion of the viewers is beneath the age of 21. Fb, Twitter and Instagram prohibit marijuana adverts, however hashish firms can develop a social media presence by establishing a enterprise profile and sharing posts and tweets.
These are the most recent findings from the primary U.S. examine to look at youth publicity to marijuana advertising in states which have legalized hashish for grownup leisure use. Whitehill and colleagues discovered that publicity to marijuana advertising on social media shouldn’t be solely widespread but additionally related to latest use of marijuana by adolescents. For instance, teenagers who reported seeing marijuana promotions on Instagram had been greater than twice as more likely to have used marijuana previously yr, in comparison with youth who didn’t see such promotions.
The analysis, printed within the Journal of Adolescent Well being, means that “present restrictions on social media content material don’t go far sufficient as a result of it is clearly making its technique to youth,” says Whitehill, assistant professor of well being promotion and coverage within the Faculty of Public Well being and Well being Sciences. Whitehill is a part of the Hashish Promoting and Social Media examine workforce, led by Dr. Megan Moreno, professor of pediatrics on the College of Wisconsin Faculty of Drugs and Public Well being. The investigative workforce additionally contains researchers from the Boston College Faculty of Public Well being and the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“Youth who cannot purchase or use non-medical marijuana should not should see these promotions, significantly on a platform like Instagram, whose viewers is generally youth,” Moreno says. A associated examine by the identical workforce social media engagement, relatively than publicity, discovered that one in three youth in states with authorized leisure marijuana have interaction with marijuana manufacturers by following, liking or in any other case interacting with them. This social media engagement was linked to increased charges of marijuana use.
The investigators level out that “many years of analysis on alcohol and tobacco—different authorized substances with abuse potential—present sturdy correlations between youth publicity to advertising and each earlier initiation and better consumption amongst these already utilizing.”
With retail hashish outlets already working in seven states and the $10 billion-plus hashish market anticipated to develop as extra states comply with swimsuit, the influence of hashish advertising—particularly within the understudied social media enviornment—has essential public well being implications and requires additional examine, Whitehill says.
Utilizing a web-based panel, the examine surveyed 469 youth, ages 15 to 19, in California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington—4 of the 11 states with legalized grownup marijuana use. Members had been requested about their social media use, marijuana use and publicity to marijuana advertising. “First we discovered what social media platforms they used, after which we requested, while you use this platform, do you see marijuana adverts or promotions,” Whitehill explains.
Tellingly, extra youth reported seeing marijuana promotions on social media than billboards. “Throughout marijuana customers and nonusers, 73% mentioned that they had seen marijuana commercials outside on billboards,” Whitehill says. “However the determine was even increased on social media, with 79% reporting publicity—even in an area the place they aren’t presupposed to be seeing hashish advertising.”
The examine was co-authored by Pamela Trangenstein of the College of North Carolina, David Jernigan of Boston College and Marina Jenkins of the College of Wisconsin.
The researchers conclude, “Present insurance policies to assist stop publicity to hashish advertising on-line usually are not efficient. Whereas bigger, longitudinal research about publicity to hashish advertising on social media and onset of adolescent hashish use are wanted, states ought to think about adopting probably the most restrictive hashish advertising insurance policies possible, mixed with an accountability and enforcement infrastructure that may assist defend the present era of adolescents.”