10 August 2018:
Just when cigarette smoking among adolescents is at its lowest, vaping has taken over as an alternate stealth delivery mechanism for the addictive drug nicotine.
Vaping is perceived as the cool in-thing, socially appealing, glamorous, flavorful, and healthy. Smoking, on the other hand, is bitter, smelly, harmful, uncool, passé and a taboo.
Over the past 50 years, tobacco control policies and programs have helped the fight toward reducing smoking rates by more than 60% (from 42.4 % in 1965 to 15.1% in 2015). However, this hard-earned trend may be losing the battle to vaping. The immense popularity of JUUL, a highly potent e-cigarette among teens may be creating nicotine addicts en masse. Healthcare professionals are concerned about an ensuing public health disaster.
In the U.S., cigarette companies are prohibited from glamorizing cigarette smoking in the media or using youth-appealing targeted marketing campaigns. Ironically, e-cigarettes manufacturers are using these same tactics on steroids. As a result, teens are increasingly giving e-cigarettes and cigarettes a try.
Adoption of e-cigarettes, and JUUL in particular, has been more rapid than for any consumer product in the recent history. Since its 2015 launch, JUUL sales are up almost 900%, with 70% ownership of the US e-cigarette market. In the U.S., JUUL has become ubiquitous at demographically affluent high schools – precisely at locations where smoking has declined the most in recent decades.
E-cigarette technology was purported to help grown-ups quit smoking; instead, it is now feeding the nicotine addiction frenzy among youth.
The success of JUUL among youth can be attributed to multiple factors. Its stealth appearance as a USB flash drive makes it nondescript, portable and a trendy piece of technology to carry. And it’s easy to use: Just snap the pod filled with nicotine and inhale. It’s available in wide assortment of fruity flavors such as mango, cool cucumber, etc.. The flavorful low-vapor nicotine puffs are hard to detect. JUUL pods with exceptionally high nicotine content (5%, 59 mg) carry the punch of a full pack of cigarettes, giving the kick or the “head rush.”