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New study reveals teens 16 times more likely to use JUUL than older age groups

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Truth Initiative study published today in Tobacco Control found that the younger teenagers are, the more likely they are to use JUUL. In fact, the study revealed that 15- 17-year-olds have over 16 times greater odds to be current JUUL users compared to those aged 25-34. Frequency of use patterns suggest that youth may not be merely experimenting with JUUL, but using it regularly. E-cigarettes, such as JUUL and vape pens like the KandyPens Rubi and Suorin Drop, are now the most popular tobacco product among youth, with JUUL owning more than 72 percent of the e-cigarette market share.

This Truth Initiative study is the first national probability-based sample of youth and young adults showing the prevalence and use patterns of JUUL product use. More than 13,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 34 were sampled. The data show that 11.2 percent of the 18- to 21-year-olds reported ever using JUUL. Additionally, among those aged 15-17 who used a JUUL in the past 30 days, 56 percent used the device on three or more days. Almost half of that group used the device on 10 or more days in the past month.  

These high rates are consistent with a recent announcement from the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who declared that e-cigarette use reached “nothing short of an epidemic proportion of growth,” and cited new, unpublished federal data that anticipate a 77 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students as compared to 2017. That number may be conservative, as JUUL was not specifically a part of that study and many teenagers do not consider JUUL to be synonymous with e-cigarettes.

“The staggering numbers being reported on youth vaping and the usage findings in our JUUL study tell the true and troubling story of e-cigarettes’ pervasiveness among young people. When you consider that more than 50 percent of current JUUL users aged 15-17 use the device three or more times a month and 25.3 percent used it 10 or more times, this is not experimentation — it’s a pathway to addiction,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative. “We know that teens using these products, who were not smokers in the first place, are four times more likely to go on to smoke cigarettes. Regulation and education are key in stopping the e-cigarette epidemic from erasing 20 years of progress in preventing youth and young adults from becoming smokers.”

To combat the youth e-cigarette epidemic, truth®, the national youth tobacco prevention campaign from Truth Initiative, recently launched a new digital campaign about the risks of e-cigarettes titled “safer ≠ safe.” The effort shares key facts, including that young adults who use e-cigarettes are more than four times as likely to begin smoking cigarettes within 18 months compared to their peers who do not vape and that, according to JUUL, one standard JUUL pod delivers the equivalent nicotine of a pack of cigarettes.  

JUUL’s high nicotine content, combined with its highly youth appealing flavors such as mango and fruit medley, are particularly worrisome — especially given that the device delivers nicotine up to 2.7 times faster than other e-cigarettes, increasing the potential for addiction. Knowing that almost all smokers (98 percent) start by age 26, and nearly nine out of 10 adult smokers start smoking by age 18, it is especially important to prevent young people from starting a nicotine dependency at this vulnerable age.

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