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Nearly 1 in 5 youth say they have seen JUUL used in school

Almost one-fifth of middle and high school students have seen the popular new e-cigarette JUUL used in school, according to a Truth Initiative® survey.

JUUL, which looks like a USB flash drive, comes in a variety of youth-appealing flavors and contains a strong dose of nicotine (the amount of nicotine in one JUUL cartridge is roughly equal to a pack of cigarettes), has accrued more than half of the e-cigarette market share in just two years. Its rapid popularity has caused alarm in schools across the country and made news headlines due to reports of widespread use on school property, such as:

  • “Why 'juuling' has become a nightmare for school administrators” (NBC News)
  • “Schools and Parents Fight a Juul E-Cigarette Epidemic” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “‘I Can’t Stop’: Schools Struggle With Vaping Explosion” (New York Times)

The Truth Initiative survey, given to more than 1,000 youth between 12 and 17 years old in April 2018, found that 18 percent of students had seen JUUL used in school.

nearly 1 in 5 students between 12 and 17 years old have seen JUUL used in school

The survey follows a Truth Initiative study that reveals while many young people are aware of JUUL, many are unaware that JUUL flavor pods always contain the addictive chemical nicotine, which is harmful to brain development. The study, published in Tobacco Control, reports that 63 percent of young JUUL users between 15 and 24 years old did not know that the product always contains nicotine. It also reported that many young users refer to use of the product as "JUULing," indicating that JUUL is so distinctive, it is perceived as its own category.

The Food and Drug Administration recently issued warning letters to retailers, including gas stations, convenience stores and vape shops, for selling JUUL to minors, and prompted online retailer eBay to remove product listings. The Truth Initiative survey also found that nearly three-quarters of youth who purchased JUUL said they got the device at a physical retail location, and 89 percent of youth who tried to purchase the product online were successful.

The FDA also asked the maker, JUUL Labs, to turn over documents related to marketing, health effects and use among youth. The moves follow a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb from Truth Initiative and five public health and medical groups calling on the agency to act.

Promoted as a smoking alternative for adult smokers, JUUL puts a new generation of youth at risk of nicotine dependence and future cigarette use. The prevalence and popularity of this high-potency nicotine delivery device raise concerns about the lack of education and regulation of e-cigarette products.