What Parents Need to Know About JUUL
If you’re a parent of a teen, you are likely concerned about them vaping. Vaping is “easily recognized as one of the most popular substance use trends among teens” these days as our partners at the Partnership to End Addiction note. And, if you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve likely heard murmurs of a potential JUUL ban.
In this blog post, we’d like to take a closer look at what this means for the teens in your life.
Let’s start with the basics. What is JUUL?
JUUL Labs, Inc. is an American electronic cigarette company. Its most common product, the JUUL, is an electronic vaporizer that atomizes nicotine salts from tobacco. This electronic, nicotine-infused liquid (“nic-liq” or “vape juice” as some people call it) is squeezed into single-use cartridges called pods and burned through a battery that looks uncannily similar to a USB flash drive.
Cause for concern.
The inconspicuous appearance of this device combined with the variety of non-cigarette-tasting flavors, such as mango nectar and alpine berry, has caused it to become a popular habit for many teenagers in the United States. JUUL was invented to offer a cigarette alternative that was less harsh on the lungs of adult smokers. However, the flavors, advertising and ease of access made teens particularly susceptible to risk of addiction. While it can’t be said for sure if JUUL Labs, Inc. purposefully intended to lure teens into increased nicotine use, there is certain evidence to support that claim. For example, JUUL purchased ad space in teen-focused mediums such as Seventeen Magazine, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and many websites that students use for homework assistance. After the rapid surge in teen nicotine use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stepped in.
The FDA gets involved.
After the initial FDA investigation in 2018, JUUL agreed to cease the sale of certain flavored pods (mango, fruit, cucumber, crème) to make its pods less enticing to the younger demographic. This decision sunk JUUL’s market share, proving just how much the company’s sales were reliant on teen use.
Another investigation was conducted by the United States House of Representatives in 2019 regarding the company’s social media communications and advertising practices. Spearheaded by Illinois Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, the subcommittee found that “JUUL appears to be violating FDA regulations against making unapproved express and implied claims that its product helps users stop smoking cigarettes and is safer than cigarettes.” This led to more than 500 employees being laid off and many more leaving the company voluntarily.
Fast forward to June 23, 2022, when the FDA denied authorization for JUUL to continue selling products within the U.S. and even went as far as to issue Marketing Denial Orders (MDOs) banning any further marketing of its products.
Where are we now?
Currently, the FDA agreed to put its investigation on hold while the federal government reopens its review of electronic cigarette policies. Until this investigation is completed, JUUL is permitted to continue sales of its products. JUUL has since removed marketing directed at the teenage demographic, age-protected its website, and added verbiage about how JUUL products are strictly for adults.
To stay on the market, JUUL must show its e-cigarettes benefit public health by proving its e-cigarettes to help adult users either quit or lessen cigarette smoking while also protecting teenagers from starting the habit at all. This investigation has tremendous implications for thousands of adults – and teenagers – across America. Though no verdict has been decided, it’s clear that teens need to be protected from harmful substances and the advertising that sells them.
So, what can you do to protect your teen?
- Monitor Screentime
- As the investigation at hand shows, screens are not always safe. Monitor your teen’s screen use to ensure the content they’re consuming has their best interest at heart.
- Have Honest Conversations
- Teens are curious by nature. They are inevitably going to have questions about substances. It’s your job as a parent to respond honestly, with patience and compassion. Keep in mind that if teens don’t get the answers they seek at home, they will likely resort to other sources for information. Being open and honest goes a long way in protecting your teenager.
- Look Out for Warning Signs
- Like adults, teens exhibit changes in behavior when they start using or misusing a substance. Some signs your teen might be vaping include frequent bloody noses, coughs, or cutting back on caffeine use. Check out our helpful article to learn more about these warning signs and how to talk to your teen about the dangers of e-Cigarettes.
Increased awareness can only mean increased prevention. Join us in the fight against teen cough medicine abuse by exploring and sharing our free resources.