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JUUL E-CIGARETTES – WHAT THEY KNEW, WHEN THEY KNEW IT
JUUL is a type of e-cigarette. It’s battery powered and looks like a USB drive through which nicotine is delivered to the user from a non-refillable, click-in pod cartridge. The pod holds liquid that contains nicotine, benzoic acid, propylene glycol and flavoring. No tarry filled smoke is produced or emitted, only an odorless vapor, creating the notion that it’s less harmful than cigarettes. JUUL has become so popular that in 2019, it holds about 68% of the $2 billion e-cigarette market.
The tobacco industry faces a well-known obstacle to developing a smoking habit – getting past the coughing, dizziness and nauseas effects produced by nicotine. The inhalation of nicotine is harsh on the body, and many can’t tolerate it enough to develop an addiction. Enter JUUL.
By design, JUUL reduces the harshness of side effects that nicotine intake has on the body compared to traditional smoking, so nicotine can be more easily delivered and better tolerated. This allows for quicker addiction, especially by young people. Some side effects of vaping such as dry mouth, dizziness, coughing, dry skin, itchiness, dry eyes, insomnia, nosebleeds and bleeding may be dismissed by teens as minor or temporary. However, they may be indicative of symptoms contributing to a not yet seen adverse health condition.
JUUL is especially troublesome since it delivers higher concentrations of nicotine than other e-cigarettes. A pod may contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. As does a pack of cigarettes, one pod has about 200 puffs. Its discreteness and convenience makes it easy to go through a pod a day.
Much of JUUL’s success can be attributed to its model features and early marketing strategy, both meant to target young people. Research shows it’s harder to inspire adults to change their behavior and brand preferences, and it’s more expensive to market to them. Marketing JUUL to adolescents and teens would be more profitable.
JUUL has a luring, sleek and discrete design. It looks like a flash drive, can be quickly charged by a computer or wall charger, and comes in youth appealing fruity flavors. It’s also attractive since it’s easy to hide. It can be stored and used secretly without parents or teachers noticing. Children and teenagers can be particularly vulnerable to these “cool” features.
Due to its popularity, its high concentration of nicotine, and its ease of use, kids are becoming unknowingly addicted to nicotine at startling rates. The long term adverse health effects of nicotine use are well known, and adverse effects from other JUUL liquid chemicals are highly suggested.
JUUL AS A HARM REDUCTION DEVICE, NOT SO
Until 2016, the FDA did not regulate the manufacturing, marketing and advertising of e-cigarettes and JUUL. Their harmful ingredients and effects went unmonitored for almost five years.
In 2018, JUUL changed its tune and markets its product to adults who have quit smoking cigarettes, want to quit smoking, and as a better option with less health risks than cigarettes; a lesser of two evils. Health officials had hoped for a harm reduction alternative to smoking, but to no avail.
HARMFUL SIDE EFFECTS OF JUUL
CHRONIC EXPOSURE MAY:
- increase heart rate and blood pressure which can lead to damaged blood vessels, leading to heart attack and stroke.
- result in popcorn lung. Popcorn lung is a medical condition that damages the bronchioles causing inflammation scarring and breathing difficulties.
- lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
- impair brain development in people younger than 26 since their brains are not yet fully developed, leading to poor attention span, impulse control and attention deficit disorder.
- cause addiction. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Addiction that takes hold when people are younger tends to last a lifetime.
- result in nicotine poisoning.
- result in seizures.
- be a gateway drug to other addictive substances.
- lead to fetal abnormalities.
Some users have reported coughing up blood, the onset of pneumonia, fungal infections in their lungs, chronic respiratory problems, ramp up of autoimmune diseases, bronchitis symptoms, ear pain, headaches, nausea, sore throat, nicotine poisoning, mouth ulcers and more. These symptoms may be indicative of serious health conditions and warrant further research and discussion.
WHAT THEY KNEW
The founders of JUUL started the company in 2004 and released its first product (Ploom/Pax, later JUUL) into the market in 2012. They knew from its inception they wanted to overcome the hurdles faced by Big Tobacco by offering a product whose nicotine delivery was less harsh on the body, creating more tolerance for a quicker habit forming addiction. They achieved this by producing a vape delivery product with liquid pods without a tarry smoke emission, which also provided a higher concentration of nicotine. Bingo.
They also knew it would be much more profitable to market to children and teens since they’re more impressionable and vulnerable to marketing tactics promoting the “cool” factor. Young people under the age of 26 are more likely to get hooked on something and develop a lifelong habit since their brains are not yet fully developed. It’s also harder to change adult behavior, so it’s more expensive to market to them.
WHEN THEY KNEW IT
Since 2009, tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death in the US. JUUL already knew the inherent risks of using nicotine when they introduced it to the market in 2012, yet they decided to capitalize on it and sell a product with a higher concentration of nicotine and reduced harshness to create an addiction more quickly. They also chose to market it to the most vulnerable in our communities – our children. Not until 2018 did they market to adults and to people trying to quit cigarettes. And not all of JUUL’s features and marketing that entices young people to buy it have been eliminated, so this pandemic among our young people continues.
The Surgeon General is now calling e-cigarette use an epidemic. Much damage has already been done – you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. We need to hold JUUL accountable and protect the lives of our children and future generations from the health risks connected to JUUL.
If you or a loved one has been affected or harmed by JUUL, here are some valuable consumer advocacy groups and resources that can help:
- Addiction Hive
- Cardiovascular Hive
- Depression Hive
- National Center for Health Research
- American Cancer Association
- American Heart Association
- American Lung Association
- Vaping Daily