6 important facts about JUUL
The rapid ascension of JUUL — the new e-cigarette that is so popular with young people that it has accumulated a majority of the e-cigarette market share in just two years — has left a trail of questions and concerns. Here are six important facts to know about JUUL.
The amount of nicotine in one JUUL cartridge is roughly equal to the amount of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes, or about 200 puffs, according to the product website.
While less toxic than combustible cigarettes, e-cigarettes can make youth more likely to use cigarettes and still contain toxins and the addictive chemical nicotine, which is harmful to adolescent brain development.
JUUL is easy to hide because it looks like a flash drive and can be charged in a USB port. It also does not produce a strong odor.
These characteristics enable discreet use, especially in schools. Almost one-fifth of middle and high school students have seen JUUL used in school, according to an April 2018 Truth Initiative® survey of more than 1,000 youth between 12 and 17 years old.
JUUL comes in a variety of flavors, such as fruit medley, mango, cool cucumber and creme brulee. Flavors in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, have been proven to appeal to young people. Flavored e-cigarettes are especially dangerous, not only because they attract youth, but because their young users are likely to be misinformed about the harmfulness of the products.
Many youth e-cigarette users incorrectly believe they aren’t consuming nicotine when they vape. The majority of youth e-cigarette users think they vaped only flavoring, not nicotine, the last time they used a product, according to an annual national survey of more than 40,000 students from the University of Michigan 2016 Monitoring the Future study.
By law, people under the age of 18 (or 21 in some areas) should not be able to purchase any tobacco products, including JUUL. So, how are so many young people getting their hands on JUUL?
Truth Initiative surveyed a national sample of more than 1,000 12- to 17-year-olds in April 2018 and found that nearly three quarters — 74 percent — of youth said that they obtained JUUL at a store or retail outlet. Just over half — 52 percent — reported that they received JUUL from a social source, such as a friend or family member. Although the internet was not the most common way youth obtained JUUL — only 6 percent reported that they received the product through an online transaction — nearly all youth who tried to buy the product online were successful.
Many companies are producing look-alike products to try to cash in on the profits of the top-selling e-cigarette. There are so many new devices that a social media account dedicated to e-cigarettes and vaping devices, Salt Porn, posted in May, “It feels like there is a new pod system released every day and we receive tons of them … So many in fact that there is no way we can review them all.” These products are not only putting a generation of youth at risk of nicotine addiction, but they appear to be breaking the law.
In recent months, the Food and Drug Administration has taken some actions regarding JUUL, including issuing warning letters to retailers for selling the product to minors. The FDA also asked the maker, JUUL Labs, to turn over documents related to marketing, health effects and use among youth. While these actions are encouraging, problems with tobacco products like JUUL won’t be addressed until the FDA fully regulates e-cigarettes and establishes a strong pre-market review process to prevent these kinds of products from being sold in the first place.
Truth Initiative and five other public health and medical groups called on the FDA to take action on JUUL in April. The groups specified five actions, including removing certain JUUL flavors, suspending internet sales and prohibiting branded merchandise.