JUUL E-Cigarettes: Addicting and Injuring Teens With The Help of Social Media
Between June and August of 2019, there have been more than 215 reports of serious lung disease and other health concerns across 25 states tied to e-cigarette use. The first death from severe respiratory illness in connection with e-cigarette use occurred in Illinois in August 2019. As a result, public health officials have begun to further investigate the dangers of “vaping,” specifically the impact it can have on the lungs of adolescents. Many e-cigarette companies aggressively promote their products as a safer alternative to smoking, but an increasing amount of evidence suggests that may not be the case.
What are E-Cigarettes?
E-Cigarettes are electronic devices that use a battery to heat a liquid and produce a mix of particles known as an aerosol. The aerosols usually contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals that are then inhaled by the user. The use of e-cigarettes is commonly referred to as ‘vaping.’
E-Cigarettes come in many shapes, styles, and sizes. Some e-cigarettes are designed to look like traditional cigarettes, while others look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday products.
What is JUUL?
JUUL is a Silicon Valley e-cigarette startup recently valued at $15 billion. In recent years, JUUL’s popularity has soared and now amasses 70% of the e-cigarette market. Although the company is partially owned by Altria, the tobacco company behind Marlboro cigarettes, JUUL maintains that their e-cigarette products are intended for adult smokers who want to transition from smoking traditional cigarettes.
What Do JUUL’s E-Cigarettes Look Like?
Similar to most e-cigarettes, JUUL products are battery-powered and heat a nicotine-containing liquid to produce an aerosol. However, stylistically, JUUL products resemble USB flash drives.
What’s Inside the Aerosol in JUUL E-Cigarettes?
JUUL e-cigarettes contain a high level of nicotine. According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a traditional pack of 20 cigarettes.
In addition to the high levels of nicotine, JUUL e-cigarette aerosols contain harmful and potentially harmful substances such as ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, flavoring chemicals such as diacetyl which is linked to a serious lung disease, volatile organic compounds, cancer-causing chemicals, and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.
Danger of using JUUL: Nicotine Use in Adolescents
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there are extensive dangers of adolescents using products that contain nicotine, such as JUUL e-cigarettes. These dangers include:
- Negative impacts on the developing brain such as disrupting the formation of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to addiction
- Long-term effects such as mood disorders and lowered impulse control
- A more activated limbic system which leads to greater risk of addiction
- High probability of using other tobacco products in the future
Danger of using JUUL: Exposure to Diacetyl
Diacetyl is a flavoring chemical frequently found in e-cigarettes that can cause irreversible conditions such as bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as “popcorn lung.” Exposure to diacetyl may lead to the chemical seeping into the lung’s smallest airways, the bronchioles, which then become inflamed, damaged, and scarred. The scarred bronchioles block the movement of air in the lungs.
How Common is Exposure to Diacetyl?
In a study conducted by the Environmental Health perspectives, 51 flavors of e-cigarettes were tested and diacetyl was detected in 39 of the aerosols.
How Popular are E-Cigarettes Among Adolescents?
Among adolescents and teenagers, e-cigarettes are more popular than traditional cigarettes. In 2017 and 2018, polls discovered a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among high schoolers and a 48% increase among middle schoolers. Additionally, more than 2/3 of high school users choose e-cigarettes that offer flavors – such as JUUL products – because they seem ‘safer’ than traditional cigarettes. The drastic increase in e-cigarette use among young people has resulted in the Food and Drug Administration calling teen vaping an “epidemic.”
Why are Kids Using JUUL?
Social influence, enticing flavors, and JUUL marketing strategies presenting e-cigarettes as a ‘safer’ alternative for traditional cigarettes appear to have increased JUUL product usage among adolescents.
There is increased concern and public backlash over JUUL’s marketing strategies which appear to be targeting young people. According to Tobacco Control Journal, JUUL stands out from other e-cigarette companies by marketing their devices on social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram which are especially popular with young people. Researchers claim that the combination of the company’s marketing efforts, their product offerings such as sleek designs mimicking USB flash drives, and candy-like flavors have resulted in more young people becoming hooked on nicotine and using e-cigarettes.
What is JUUL Saying About the Dangers?
JUUL co-founder James Monsees acknowledged the statistics showing “a significant number of underage Americans using e-cigarettes, including JUUL products”.
JUUL CEO Kevin Burns even issued a public apology to parents of teens who are addicted to the company’s vaping products saying, “First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product.”
Burns also warned nonsmokers against using JUUL products “Don’t vape. Don’t use JUUL” in addition to acknowledging that the long-term effects of vaping are unknown. However, JUUL continues to sell e-cigarettes and market their products on platforms frequented by young people.
How Do I Know if My Loved One has been Harmed by JUUL?
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Trouble doing routine tasks such as washing one’s hair or tying shoes
- Difficulty breathing
If you or a loved one has experienced these symptoms after using vaping, please contact a healthcare professional.
What Should I Do If My Child Was Harmed After JUUL E-Cigarette Use?
If you or a loved one has been harmed after the use of a JUUL vaping device, contact the Minnesota e-cigarette attorneys at GoldenbergLaw. With over 30 years of experience fighting corporate negligence, we deliver the Gold standard advocacy you deserve.