A new study has revealed some alarming information when it comes to young people and the rising popularity of JUUL, a discreet e-cigarette that, as of April 2018, has taken more than half of the e-cigarette market share.
A new Truth Initiative study, published this month in the journal Tobacco Control, reveals that 25 percent of survey respondents ages 15 to 24 recognized a JUUL e-cigarette device — which looks similar to a USB drive — when shown a photo of the product. Out of that group, 25 percent reported they know that using the product is called “JUULing,” which the Truth Initiative says indicates that the product is so well known that it is perceived as its own category.
The most shocking information revealed in the study, however, is that despite the device being so well known, 63 percent of actual JUUL users did not know the product contains nicotine in every puff.
How much nicotine? Each JUULpod contains the approximate equivalent to 1 pack of cigarettes, or 200 puffs. So, if a user goes through one JUULpod a day, that is the nicotine equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
“It is no wonder that JUUL e-cigarettes have rapidly caught on with youth — they look like a sleek USB flash drive, are easily concealed, and come in youth-appealing flavors like mint, mango and crème brulee,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative. “Unfortunately, young people are unaware that JUUL packs a powerful nicotine punch with a single cartridge equal to an entire pack of cigarettes. This escalates the urgency for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation and public education regarding the risks for young people.”
JUUL confirms on its website that all JUULpods contain nicotine and, at this time, they do not offer non-nicotine options. Other ingredients in JUULpods include glycerol, propylene glycol, and benzoic acid, as well as oils, extracts and flavors that are claimed to be natural.
On its website, JUUL acknowledges underage use of its products but says it is “committed to combating” this. The company’s prevention efforts seem to focus mainly on educating retailers and advocating technology that prevents underage people from buying JUUL devices in the first place.
Truth Initiative says while the FDA has announced efforts to “reduce the addictiveness and appeal of combustible tobacco products,” the delay in reviewing the products before they hit the market “deprives the public of critical information needed to make informed choices, contributes to confusion among smokers about the quality and safety of devices and permits the proliferation of products that are highly appealing to youth.”
For now, Truth Initiative and six other public health and medical groups have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a decision by the FDA that allows e-cigarettes to avoid full regulatory compliance until 2022.
An alarming Truth Initiative report in January revealed how much teens are being exposed to smoking just in the streaming and on-demand entertainment they watch. That study found that 79 percent of the shows most popular with people ages 15 to 24 prominently show characters smoking, with the worst offender being Netflix’s popular “Stranger Things,“ in which children make up the majority of the cast.
If you’re worried that your kids are uninformed about e-cigarettes, The American Lung Association recommends giving children and teens a clear, consistent message about the risks of smoking. They suggest you tell them honestly and directly that you do not want them smoking any form of nicotine. Of course, it’s also important to not smoke around your children or allow other people to smoke around them.
Did you know JUUL devices packed so much nicotine?