Juuling at a National Level

Is it the Crown Juul of Teen Addiction?

December 7, 2018

You’ve probably heard about Juul. Whether used as a noun or verb, Juul has quickly risen in popularity in the United States since its creation in 2015. This sleek, small, eye-catching device is the brainchild of former smokers Adam Bowen and James Monsees. This e-cigarette is used to vape nicotine salts, with the goal of providing an experience similar to a real cigarette. The two college buddies created Juul’s parent company, PAX Labs, in 2007 before creating Juul in the summer of 2017.

The first ad campaign for Juul was launched in June of 2015 and quickly propelled Juul to the top of the e-cigarette market. According to Nielsen Data, Juul has a market share of 72.8 percent as of September 2018 and Juul’s number of employees has risen to a substantial 800 as of September 2018.

Although positive for Juul, the company’s rapid growth hasn’t been without its own fair share of problems. Juul has been under intense scrutiny from the FDA since people started noticing that Juul is alarmingly popular among teens in the United States. Juul has been accused of utilizing multiple advertising techniques to attract young users. Their first ads were full of colors and displayed young-looking people, smiling and laughing, holding Juuls. Additionally, the names of their Juul flavors were thought to target youth. With names such as “Cool Cucumber,” “Crème Brûlée” and “Fruit Medley,” Juul was thought to be adding unnecessary descriptors to their flavor names in order to make them sound more appealing.

With growing concern about underage use of Juuls, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement in April of 2018. The statement talks about the Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to stop teen use of, and access to, Juul and other e-cigarettes. In it Gottlieb declared that, “the FDA also sent an official request of information directly to Juul Labs, requiring that the company submit important documents to better understand the reportedly high rates of teen use and the particular youth appeal of these products.”

The types of documents which the FDA requested contained information about product design, marketing strategies, ingredients, and behavioral and psychological effects of Juuls. In his last statement, Gottlieb said, “We don’t yet fully understand why these products are so popular among youth. But it’s imperative that we figure it out, and fast. These documents may help us get there.”

This event, along with a multitude of concerned schools, teachers, and parents, prompted Juul to take action and address these claims. Since the FDA statement in April, Juul has modified their flavor names by dropping the descriptors. Additionally, they have simplified their advertisements by using fewer colors and, most importantly, featuring models aged 35 and older, driving home the point that Juul is meant for ex-cigarette smokers to help them quit.

On the Juul website, under their dropdown menu, within the “Our Mission” section, Juul specifically outlines what their intent as a company is. Put quite simply, their mission is to “Improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers.” Further into their website, Juul continues to outline how their goal as a company is to “maximize the positive and reduce the negative.” They don’t specify what exactly the “positive” and “negative” are, leaving it up in the air for customers, critics, the FDA, students and ordinary people to decide for themselves. Additionally, Juul has created an entirely new page on their website called “Youth Education, Awareness, & Prevention,” which details how Juul is taking the initiative to help end youth Juuling.

However many steps Juul is taking to end underage usage, for those who still Juul, there remains a multitude of negative effects. According to a 2018 study done by Penn State University, the vapor exhaled by e-cigarette users contains carcinogens and is a risk to nearby non-users, similar to secondhand tobacco smoke.

Additionally, one Juul Pod contains as much nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. This can be especially dangerous considering that 63% of Juul users don’t know that pods always contain nicotine. The lack of knowledge surrounding these new devices is the most worrisome aspect of this public health crisis.

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