The Reality of Juul

Antoinette Aho, Editor-in-Chief

In December of 2018, the FDA announced restrictions that prohibit stores to sell flavored e-cigarettes from areas that are not inaccessible to customers under 18. This moves the entire cigarette section away from anyone underage, but with many concerns for flavored e-cigarettes to be banned altogether, this does not place enough restriction on the product.

While AP News writes that most teen drug use is down, a significant increase in teen vaping, notably through the use of the popular vape pen, JUUL, has led researchers to urge the FDA to summon a change in the availability of the booming product. The leading company, JUUL, now claims 70% of the entire US e-cigarette market, it is worth 38 billion, and were predicted to have made two billion in sales alone this year. Having launched in 2015, with a plan to create a less harmful type of cigarette that was more socially acceptable, the long flash drive-resembling vape pen was conceived. The company tripled its sales in the year it launched and attracted a range of users, many underage.

In early January this year, JUUL announced that they are working with Altria – the maker of Marlboro cigarettes. This is startling, since the company began with a direction to be less harmful and unalike regular cigarettes.

Researchers state that the attraction in teens comes from the misunderstanding that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but Truth Initiative has discovered that one JUUL pod contains the same amount of nicotine as 20 cigarettes.

With more research and data being released on the truth about vaping, the urgency to end the use, due to the highly potential risk of addiction, is strong. And, unearthing how young people are getting their hands on the product is vital to removing it; in April of 2018, Truth Initiative surveyed a national sample of more than 1000 12-to 17-year olds to find out how they were getting JUUL pens. About 72 percent of youth reported receiving JUUL through a physical retail location (gas station, convenient store, vape shop), 52 percent reported they received JUUL from a social source, such as a friend or family member and 6 percent reported they received the product through an online transaction. Another alarming discovery was nearly all youth who tried to buy JUUL online were successful- a near 89 percent.

This data is an indicator that stores are lacking the responsibility to only provide the product to consumers over 18. More so, JUUL as a company is too lenient on its selling methods, and this represents that the company is not taking initiative to keep its product away from curious teens. As a supplier of a drug, they have a responsibility to monitor their suppliers and keep a steady eye on their buyers.