The influence of social media on e-cigarette usage and psychological distress

Author Name(s)

Sarah Cabrera

Additional Author(s)

  • Kaylen Sanchez, B.A.
  • Kaylena Mann
  • Argero Zerr, Ph.D.

Faculty Advisor(s)

Geri Zerr


This study examines the relation between e-cigarette use, social media use, and psychological distress among adolescents. According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, vaping among adolescents increased among 12th graders (11% to 25%), 10th graders (8% to 20%), and 8th graders (4% to 9%) from 2017 to 2019 (Miech et al., 2020). Previous literature suggests levels of psychological distress (Leventhal et al., 2016) and social media use positively correlated with e-cigarette usage (Massey et al., 2021), but there is not enough evidence to connect all of these variables. We predict that adolescent e-cigarette users will have higher rates of social media use and report more psychological distress than non-users. Data from the present study were derived from the 2019 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), where adolescents participated by responding to an online survey or interviewed by a member of the SSRS staff. This sample includes 847 adolescents (47% female) ranging from ages 12 to 17. The ethnic background of participants is 42.3% Non-Latino White, 32.3% Latino, 11.7%, Non-Latino Asian, 9.2% Non-Latino (other) two or more races, and 4.5% Non-Latino (other) one race. In total, 5.0% of adolescents reported being current e-cigarette users and 16.4% reported ever having used e-cigarettes. A two independent samples t-tests revealed that current e-cigarette users did not report significantly different rates of internet usage (t(845) = 1.66, p =.10), but did report significantly higher social media usage (t(844) = 2.3, p = .021). Preliminary chi-square analysis showed that current e-cigarette smokers were significantly more likely to report psychological distress in the past month (30%) and past year (60%) compared to non-users (13%; Χ2(1) = 7.54, p = .006); (31%; X2(1) = 14.75, p < .001). Additional analyses will further examine this relationship. These findings suggest there is a relation between e-cigarette use, social media, and psychological distress. This research is important because studies on the effects of social media on adolescent mental health are relatively new and we should continue research in this area to further understand how the findings may affect future generations.

2 thoughts on “The influence of social media on e-cigarette usage and psychological distress”

  1. Excellent work Sarah! The poster is well-organized and your presentation was very enthusiastic. Great work!!

  2. You did an exceptional job of describing the results in each graph and table as well as drawing conclusions. You clearly demonstrated a thorough understanding of your results and their implications. Great job!

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