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Home / Health / The truth campaign took on smoking by teenagers. Now it's off to JUUL.

The truth campaign took on smoking by teenagers. Now it's off to JUUL.



JUUL is the Vape Giant who went from zero to three years. Truth Initiative is the largest anti-smoking organization in the United States.

Both the company and the non-profit organization claim to pursue the same goal: to help smokers finish tobacco cigarettes. But Robin Koval, CEO and President of the Truth Initiative, was not shy about beating JUUL.

SEE ALSO: Juul Vapes Will Contribute to a Dangerous E-waste Crisis

"The fact that JUUL feels like" What, young people use JUUL? We've never wanted that "is a little disingenuous," she said.

Oh yes, that. Teenagers love JUUL. Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are filled with #juul references. These days, college downtime is all about publishing stories of themselves that are reminiscent of Drake.

The devices are slim, small and everywhere. You do not need to replenish with liquid – just bring in a new JUULpod. They even charge via USB.

Unlike some vapes, they deliver a lot of nicotine. The company says every JUULpod contains 5 percent nicotine, about the same as a pack of cigarettes. Early on, the company reached many young people in social media with ads of models experiencing their #vapelife.

The rebound of parents and press was fierce. In response, JUUL has removed models from its feeds that now only contain ex-smokers sharing their stories. She has provided $ 30 million to combat underage use of her products. The company also has a secret purchasing program to conduct "random compliance checks" to ensure that retail stores are not sold to minors.

Koval wants JUUL to do more. She dismissed the $ 30 million spent by JUUL as a "rounding error" for a company that had just raised $ 1.2 billion from investors.

"Honestly, if they really wanted to do something to influence youth turnover, they could voluntarily follow all the rules that were postponed until 2022," she said.

During the Obama administration, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that e-cigarette manufacturers must submit their products for review by the summer. Trump administration officials postponed this deadline until 2022, saying it did not want to repress innovation.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "JUUL said that it" effectively supports legislation and regulation, "but has no support for FDA rules." And the company has spent $ 240,000 on lobbyists in the hope of influencing e-cig regulations, according to Wired . " data-reactid = "30" JUUL said that it supports "effective legislation and regulation" but has not indicated any support for FDA rules. According to Wired the company has spent $ 240,000 on lobbyists in the hope of influencing e-cig regulations.

And not everyone believes that $ 30 million will keep young people from trying JUUL.

"Tobacco companies have a long history of developing and promoting their own programs that, they say, serve to prevent youth," said Pamela Ling, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. These programs are simply "PR tools to avoid regulation," she said. And JUUL could follow the same strategy.

"As far as I know, there is no published evidence that the JUUL Youth Program actually reduces youth use of JUUL."

Then there is the theme of youthful-friendly flavors, especially mango and "fruit blend". Koval wants to take her off the market. JUUL insists that fruity flavors help smokers who "do not want to be reminded of the tobacco taste of a cigarette".

Of course, it's a noble goal to help smokers quit. A study released earlier this year by researchers from the University of Michigan concluded that "benefits outweigh the risks" when it comes to vaping – essentially saving more lives by helping smokers quit smoking.

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills more than 7 million people every year. Several experts – including Koval – say it's better for people to smoke cigarettes than tobacco. But are they actually helping people to stop doing it? Some studies say they are effective. On the other hand, a July Georgia State University study found no evidence that use of Vape contributed to adult smokers quitting at higher rates than smokers who did not vaporize.

For teens, the stakes are even higher. Nicotine addiction could damage the developing adolescent brain and cause attention and mood disorders, said Adam Leventhal, director of the University of Southern California's health, emotion and addiction lab. Earlier this year, a report from the National Academies of Science, Technology and Medicine found that Vaping could get teens to taste traditional tobacco cigarettes – the ultimate nightmare for anti-smoking activists.

JUUL said it would release mint and "Virginia Tobacco" JUULpods with less nicotine at 3 percent in October on a large scale.

That's still enough nicotine to add to nonsmokers. And there is another problem.

Leventhal said that while lower nicotine levels could reduce the risk that teens become addicted, JUUL releases only those new products in the flavors that teens dislike.

"Their sweet flavors like mango, fruit medley and creme brulee are the most popular among children," he said.

JUUL is also entering the UK market, which limits nicotine to 1.7 percent.

"Why do not you start this here?" Koval said. "Sure, they know that the product with higher nicotine levels is more addictive, and that's been the model of the tobacco industry since the first year."

That's not the kind of thing JUUL wants to hear. The use of minors is the dark spot of an otherwise magical success story, and the company is determined to fight against the perception that it benefits from teenage addiction.

Image: Amazon

"JUUL is intended for current adult smokers, and we can not be more emphatic about this: no small or no-nicotine user should ever try JUUL," the company said in response to the initiative the truth initiative concerns.

So far, the government has taken smaller steps. The FDA sent a letter to JUUL and other e-cigarette manufacturers in May requesting internal documents "to better understand the attractiveness of youth for their products". JUUL said it has complied with the request of the FDA.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Tech companies could do more as well Stops the Spreading JUUL Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat should provide more data on who is creating and consuming JUUL content, Koval said, and Amazon might stop selling skins – stickers that cover JUUL-Vapes – on its website and remove video games, including Rick and Morty and Fortnite . "data-reactid =" 61 "> Tech companies could also do more to stop the spread of JUUL. Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat should provide more data on who is creating and consuming JUUL content, Koval said. And Amazon could stop selling skins – stickers that cover JUUL-Vapes – on its site. At least it could remove those with cartoons and video games, including Rick and Morty and Fortnite .

"I do not think young people are taking in JUUL because they want to be addicted to nicotine," Koval said. "They think it looks cool, it's new, it comes in different flavors, and everyone does it."

With the help of these edgy "truth ads," the Truth Initiative saw a drop in the teenage cigarette in the US from 23 percent in 2000 to less than 6 percent in 2018. It would be a shame if a product helped smokers stop this progress actually stopped or even vice versa.

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