Teens use JUULs everywhere—in school bathrooms and hallways, during class, at parties, and on social media. The sleek USB-shaped e-cigarette is a “nicotine delivery device” that can be concealed and used in public places. Originally intended for adults who are trying to quit smoking, JUUL attempts to mimic the nicotine hit of a real cigarette without the tar, carbon monoxide, and smell. Yet, one JUUL pod has the nicotine equivalent of 20 cigarettes, and studies show that teens who have never picked up a cigarette are now using JUULs in record numbers.
In a study published in Tobacco Control, teens between the ages of 15 and 17 were 16 times more likely to be using JUUL than any other age group. From 2017 to 2018, the number of middle school and high school students using JUUL went up from 3.6 million to 4.9 million.1
With the growing number of teens using JUUL becoming nothing short of an epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cracking down on the company’s marketing tactics and business strategy. Believing the company specifically targeted teens with enticing fruity flavors, youthful advertisements and an extremely influential social media presence, the FDA has ordered JUUL to operate under stricter regulations in an effort to reduce the number of adolescent users.
Despite these sanctions, an increasing number of teens are using JUULs.
What’s behind the JUUL teen epidemic?
The popularity of JUUL is fueled by Instagram and ignorance.
JUUL’s popularity on Instagram
In just three months, more than 15,000 public Instagram posts related to JUUL were published. Approximately 57 percent of the posts also mentioned or specifically highlighted using JUUL with family or friends during social activities, while approximately one in 10 also mentioned the addictive properties of nicotine, albeit in a “fun light”.2
Low awareness of JUUL’s nicotine levels
In a 2018 Truth Initiative study, 63 percent of JUUL users did not know that the product contains nicotine. The study also found that for those who were aware of JUUL’s nicotine levels, the majority believed JUUL to have nicotine concentrations that were less than cigarettes.
In reality, one JUUL pod has the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. JUUL pods contain nicotine salts from tobacco leaves. The nicotine salts are absorbed by the bloodstream as one inhales the vapor.
JUUL also has twice the amount of nicotine concentrate as any other brand of e-cigarette. While this is an issue currently being explored by the FDA, JUUL pods consistently test higher in nicotine content than nearly all commercially available e-cigarettes.
Teens are becoming addicted to nicotine without realizing the issue. They are vaping in school hallways and bathrooms, outside malls and movie theaters, and all across social media. The teen vaping epidemic is a public health emergency and the FDA is starting to take action. To learn more about JUUL and it’s popularity among teens, visit the truthinitiative.org.
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