Social Media and Vaping in College Students

The Role of Social Norms and Motives


  • Caroline Cheyenne Salafia Central Connecticut State University
  • Joanne DiPlacido Central Connecticut State University


social media, vaping, electronic cigarettes, social norms, motives, facebook


Traditional cigarette use has declined drastically in college students (CDC, 2019; Jamal et al., 2015), while vaping has grown rapidly (Johnston et al., 2019). Research indicates social media use and communication of social norms online have been associated with greater substance use (Brunborg et al., 2017; Ohannessian et al., 2017). Additionally, motives for substance use have also been shown to predict distinct patterns of consumption (Cooper et al., 1992). The present study examined how social media use was associated with vaping in college students, and how social norms, perceptions, and motives intervened. A total of 104 undergraduate students participated in a web-based survey (Mage = 19.74). Results indicated greater social media use, perceiving electronic cigarettes more favorably, and social norms were associated with higher levels of vaping. Social norms did not mediate the relationship between social media and vaping, but social norms did mediate the relationship between perceptions towards vaping frequency. Social motive moderated the relationship between social media and vaping, while conformity motive did not. The role of social norms was important in partially explaining the relationship between perceptions towards e-cigarettes and vaping. As vape use continues to rise in young adults, the present study helps to expand our knowledge on predictors of use and the role of social norms and motives on health behavior.

Author Biography

Caroline Cheyenne Salafia, Central Connecticut State University

Graduate Student, M.A. 

Soon to be doctoral student. 


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