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Vaping Media Literacy, Harm Perception, and Susceptibility of E-Cigarette Use Among Youth

      Introduction

      Exposure to E-cigarette marketing and media advertisements is prevalent among adolescents. A validated vaping media literacy scale is needed to inform effective vaping prevention programs.

      Methods

      A 6-item vaping media literacy scale was adapted from validated smoking and general media literacy scales with an emphasis on marketing influences. A school-based survey (N=856) was conducted to assess the reliability of vaping media literacy and 3 subscales (i.e., authors and audiences [vaping Authors and Audiences], messages and meanings [vaping Messages and Meanings], and representation and reality [vaping Representation and Reality]). Multivariable logistic regression models were performed to examine the associations of vaping media literacy with perceived harmfulness of E-cigarette use and susceptibility to use E-cigarettes. Analyses were conducted in 2021.

      Results

      The mean vaping media literacy among students was 2.6 (range=0–6). There were significant disparities with lower vaping media literacy among middle-school (versus high-school, p=0.03) students, males (versus females, p=0.003), and racial/ethnic minority students (Blacks, Hispanics, others versus Whites, p=0.0009). A higher vaping media literacy was significantly associated with increased perceived harmfulness of E-cigarette use (AOR=1.2; 95% CI=1.1, 1.2; p<0.0001). All subscales were also associated with E-cigarette harm perception. Among never E-cigarette users, students with a higher (versus those with a lower) vaping media literacy had lower susceptibility to initiating E-cigarettes (AOR=0.90; 95% CI=0.83, 0.97; p=0.005). Both vaping Messages and Meanings and vaping Representation and Reality subscales were adversely associated with susceptibility to vaping.

      Conclusions

      The vaping media literacy scale may gauge the influence of E-cigarette marketing on adolescents with high reliability and validity. Racial minorities, younger adolescents, and males appear relatively vulnerable to vaping marketing influence. Efforts to increase vaping media literacy are needed to curb youth E-cigarette use.
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