Recent months have seen a significant uptick in the use of JUUL e-cigarettes among teenagers. Shaped like a USB flash drive, these devices stand out for their compact and trendy appearance, making them easy to use at any time, and just as easy to charge, as they can be plugged into any compatible USB port. But just like most e-juices for traditional vaping devices, JUUL pods still have some nicotine content, thus making the practice of “juuling” a potential gateway to actual cigarette smoking. This is the main reason why medical professionals and lawmakers alike consider the practice to be a clear and present danger to America’s youth and are urging the U.S. government to take swift action against the trendy e-cigarettes.
Earlier on Wednesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and three other medical organizations jointly sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, asking the government agency to crack down on JUUL Labs products. According to MedPage Today, several U.S. senators separately sent another letter, addressed to both the FDA and JUUL Labs, which requested that certain initiatives be taken in order to curb the “juuling” practice among young people.
“Your company’s popular vaping device (JUUL) and its accompanying flavored nicotine cartridges (JUUL pods) are undermining our nation’s efforts to reduce tobacco use among youth and putting an entire new generation of children at risk of nicotine addiction and other health consequences,” read the letter from the senators, which urged JUUL to stop selling its pods in fruit or pastry-themed flavors designed to appeal to the youth.
Based on the latest statistics from Nielsen, JUUL devices take up more than half of the pie in the e-cigarette market among products sold by major retailers, wrote MedPage Today. Sales of the USB drive-shaped cartridges increased by over 600 percent last year, and as Stanford University tobacco researcher Robert Jackler observed, the devices have become so commonplace that teenagers can actually get away with using them inside classrooms.
“This is a phenomenon. Teens aren’t vaping, they’re ‘juuling,’ and they’re doing it in school bathrooms, hallways, and even classrooms because it is so easy to conceal.”
Despite the newfound mainstream popularity of JUUL e-cigarettes, research suggests that a good number of young Americans are unaware of their potential risks. In a survey conducted by anti-tobacco group Truth Initiative, about a quarter of the 15- to 24-year-old participants knew what a JUUL device looks like, with approximately 23 percent of those subjects familiar with the term “juuling.” Most tellingly, 63 percent of those who admitted to being JUUL users were not aware of the accompanying JUUL pods’ nicotine content.
In a statement quoted by HealthDay, Truth Initiative CEO and president Robin Koval warned that a single JUUL cartridge “packs a powerful nicotine punch” equivalent to a traditional pack of cigarettes. She said that this underscores the need for the FDA to regulate such products and for young people to be made aware that “juuling” could be a dangerous practice.