Juul is simply one of many e-cigarettes available for purchase. Until e-cigarettes entered the mainstream, the amount of teenagers using tobacco products actually decreased significantly. According to the CDC, the amount of teenagers smoking cigarettes declined among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2017. But in that same time frame, the CDC also reported that the use of electronic cigarettes increased among middle and high school students as well.
Despite the rapid increase of teenage e-cigarette use, and especially juul use, many teens aren’t fully aware of the harm it can cause. In a 2018 study published in BMJ’s Tobacco Control journal, twenty-five percent of teenagers aged 15 to 24 were able to recognize a juul in a photograph, but nineteen percent of those able to recognize the product were not aware that a juul will always contain nicotine. When comparing to that of traditional e-cigarettes, Juul contains much more nicotine than others. Juul contains 59 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid within their “pods,” which is almost triple the maximum limit of nicotine allowed in the European Union. Unlike the traditional e-cigarette, Juul relies on “nicotine salts,” which provide a “hit” much similar to that of a classic cigarette, without the smell. Additionally, this “hit” allows for nicotine to be absorbed into the body much faster than other available e-cigarettes.
Juul may also be quite popular among minors due to JUUL Lab’s marketing, which embodies many of the key elements used in the forgotten tobacco advertisements of the twentieth century. Though JUUL Labs has changed some parts of their aesthetic, many of their earlier advertisements target consumers by displaying sex appeal, relaxation, and friendship. The juul additionally differs from traditional e-cigarettes visually, and looks more like a tech product than a cigarette. Unlike previous generations of e-cigarettes, which were modeled to look like regular cigarettes, Juul has adopted a new and dangerous take on the tobacco market. In fact, many parents of children who own or use Juuls may not even know their child is engaging in drug use, due to the fact that a Juul greatly resembles that of a thumb drive.
To combat this epidemic, the FDA is cracking down on e-cigarettes, issuing warnings to many e-cigarette retailers, including Juul. The FDA also called for JUUL Labs to submit documents relating to their marketing practices, and released a new campaign this September alerting teenagers to the risks of e-cigarette use. Just this April, several US Senators, such as Tim Kaine, Elizabeth Warren, Edward J. Markey, and others sent a letter to JUUL Labs requesting that they change the names of many of their Juul Pod “flavors,” as they supposedly market to children, and also asked the company a set of questions relating to their products.
Since then, JUUL Labs has changed several of their Juul Pod “flavor” names, and has stated that they will fight underage tobacco use, and has pledged thirty million dollars to the cause. Futher, the company notes that they are in the process of creating juul pods with a lower amount of nicotine. Despite their “action,” JUUL Labs has also been hit by several lawsuits regarding its marketing and addictive nature, as well.
Regardless of one’s stance on Juul, it’s apparent that its increasing popularity is dangerous, especially among minors. Using tobacco during youth can prime the brain for future substance abuse, and Juul is no exception. Although Juul may be a way to help former smokers quit their habit, it may also be leading a new generation on the path for addiction.