At A Glance
As of March 2016, Southern Nevada Health District’s (SNHD) BreakDown educational campaign about electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and the use of flavored tobacco in hookahs attracted more than 2,400 social media followers and 27,000 web video views. SNHD created the educational campaign for teens to counter the popularity of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products smoked using hookahs. BreakDown uses an online training, web videos, and other social media content to help youth promote nicotine-free living among their peers.
Public Health Challenge
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking among teens has decreased from 14% (2007) to 7% (2013) in southern Nevada. However, e-cigarette use has nearly tripled among the same population (from nearly 5% in 2013 to 13% in 2014). A CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from 2013 noted this rise “could be due to an increase in marketing, availability, and visibility of these … products.” On social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, youth encounter messages promoting nicotine-containing products. Sometimes, this information is misleading and can encourage teens to view e-cigarettes and the use of flavored tobacco in hookahs as safer than cigarettes. To counter these messages, SNHD needed a strategy to appeal to teens that would expose the health risks of emerging nicotine products.
With support from CDC, SNHD staff launched BreakDown—an online educational campaign designed to help youth promote nicotine-free living. A key component of the campaign involved recruiting “influencers,” or teens with large social media followings, to share smoke-free messages among their peers. SNHD used an online training to help these influencers understand the dangers and myths surrounding e-cigarettes and hookah and how they could use social media to raise awareness. BreakDown web videos and other social media content focused on nicotine prevention were also created for influencers to easily share with their social media networks.