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New Truth Initiative Study Finds JUUL Use Doubled in One Year as Tobacco and Nicotine Use Among Youth Reaches Highest Level in Decades

Study Also Shows Frequency of JUUL Use Up Among Young People

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The percentage of teens and young adults aged 15-34 who have ever used JUUL more than doubled between 2018 and 2019, according to a new Truth Initiative® study published today in JAMA Pediatrics, highlighting that JUUL continues to drive the youth e-cigarette epidemic. The percentage of current JUUL users who use the device regularly — on at least 10 of the last 30 days — increased to more than a third, from 26.1% of current JUUL users in 2018 to 37.6% in 2019. These findings are similar to those reported in the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey data showing that more than a quarter of high schoolers — 27.5% — are now vaping, up from 20.8% in 2018, with 21.4% vaping on a daily basis.

While e-cigarette use increased among every age group of respondents, researchers also found that current JUUL use was higher among youth and young adults, with 8.2% of 21- to 24-year-olds, 12.8% of 18- to 20-year-olds and 7.8% of 15- to 17-year-olds using JUUL in the past month compared to older age groups (2.9%). The slant toward use among younger people is indicative of JUUL’s reliance on marketing tactics historically used by the tobacco industry to target young people — reinventing them for the digital age via social media and other youth-friendly outlets. In 2019, more than half of all respondents aged 15-17 who had ever used JUUL had never used combustible tobacco before, suggesting that JUUL appeals to young people who are at low risk for smoking. The study’s findings also suggest that certain demographics are at higher risk for increased JUUL use, including whites, Hispanics, males, and those identifying as LGBTQ.

“Youth tobacco use is at its highest in nearly 20 years primarily driven by e-cigarettes resulting in more than 5 million youth now vaping across America,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative. “As evidenced by these new findings, years of progress in the fight against youth tobacco have been reversed with millions of teens, most of whom were not smokers, now using a high nicotine tobacco product. Increases in youth e-cigarette use, and vaping overall, are no surprise as we continue to learn more about how the tobacco industry, especially e-cigarette maker JUUL, targeted youth and society’s most vulnerable with clever marketing campaigns, a highly addictive formula and youth-appealing flavors.”

The study released today comes on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration and federal administration’s new e-cigarette policy that keeps menthol in all forms, including e-liquid pods and all e-cigarette flavored liquids, on the market. “This woefully inadequate policy virtually green lights the continuation of the youth e-cigarette epidemic. Allowing menthol and flavors like cotton candy and gummy bear to remain readily available to teens completely ignores the clear evidence that flavors are a key driver of the youth e-cigarette epidemic, given that 97% of youth who vape use flavored products. With only limited and disappointing action so far from the FDA, it is more important than ever for states to remove flavored tobacco, in all forms, and continue to invest in the combined proven strategies — higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free air laws and prevention programs — so that this alarming trend of yearly increases in youth e-cigarette use can be reversed,” continued Koval.

Truth Initiative and public health partners strongly urge the administration and the FDA to reconsider its policy and restrict access to all flavored e-cigarettes, in all forms and across all retail outlets, until they have gone through the pre-market review required by law.

To help combat the youth e-cigarette epidemic in the midst of the lack of thorough regulation, truth®, the highly effective youth tobacco education campaign from Truth Initiative, recently launched its latest youth e-cigarette education campaign, “Ready to Ditch JUUL.” Inspired by young people’s social conversations, the national campaign features a series of videos highlighting young people ditching their JUULs in creative ways. For those looking to quit e-cigarettes, truth offers This is Quitting, a first-of-its-kind, free and anonymous, text-based quit vaping program. The program launched in January 2019 and now has more than 90,000 enrollees. Teens and young adults can text “DITCHJUUL” to 88709 to get immediate help.

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