FDA Launches Investigation into JUUL

Another part of the investigation is the use of young models in campaigns that promote use of JUUL in minors (Photo courtesy of Pixabay, photo credits to SarahJohnson1).

Photo courtesy of Pixabay, photo credits to SarahJohnson1

Another part of the investigation is the use of young models in campaigns that promote use of JUUL in minors (Photo courtesy of Pixabay, photo credits to SarahJohnson1).

For the past few months, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has seized thousands of documents for an investigation centered around the e-cigarette company, JUUL, and their marketing strategies. The FDA has focused their efforts on JUUL because they are estimated to constitute 72 percent of the e-cigarette market. In order to purchase a JUUL and the flavored pods, or any e-cigarette, customers must be over the age of 18. Despite this limit, minors are still able to acquire these products, and because of this, the investigation is focused around the epidemic of minors using JUUL products.

“[Vaping] in teens is becoming more of a problem. It’s just like what happened with smoking cigarettes, and even with marijuana. It’s becoming a normal thing to see, which needs to change,” said senior Rachel Etwaru.

The FDA is currently conducting an investigation to determine whether JUUL’s marketing techniques are targeting teenagers, which is illegal considering the age limit. In 2017, one in four high school students and one in fourteen middle school students used tobacco products. Excluding vaping, overall use of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and hookah in teens has been on a steady decline, but vaping has caused the statistics to skyrocket.

“I think [JUUL’s marketing techniques] should definitely be changed, if not outlawed because if it is catering towards teens and impacting their life in a negative way then it should be changed to affect the well-being of teenagers,” said junior Kylee Jones.

Many ideas have been formed on courses of actions for how to stop and prevent the use of JUULs and other products in teens. One of the most widely accepted theories is the outlawing of certain flavors that appeal to teens, such as crème brúlée, mango, mint, or fruit medley. By outlawing these flavors, people believe teens will be less interested in using e-cigarettes. However, this theory raises the question: where is the line? What makes one flavor legal while another is not?

“Obviously, you are still a teen at 18 when you are able to buy it, so JUUL is going to want to keep those flavors around that young adults are still going to use. I guess [the FDA] could make them change all their flavors, but then again how do you decide?” said junior Hayden Young.

Another theory is to enforce the age limit on purchasing e-cigarettes and e-cigarette products by holding vendors responsible for sales to minors. Any high school student, even those who do not JUUL, can offer a list of places that are known to not ask for an ID. By cracking down on gas stations, convenience stores, and online retailers, such as eBay, a large percentage of sales to minors will be eliminated. However, this restriction will force teens to become more savvy in their methods of obtaining these products. Luckily, in the case of most teens, anything that is too difficult to do is not worth it.

“Teens only do it because it is easy to get, so by changing the flavors to ones they don’t like and making them harder to access, it might make teens not want to do it,” said junior Giuliana Gogna.

Within a school setting, many students choose to JUUL in the parking lot, in bathrooms, and even in class, right under the noses of teachers and administration. Recently, disciplinary acts within schools are almost solely on the presence of an e-cigarette on school property, compared to a few years ago when “juuling” in school was unheard of. The administration is put in a tough spot by deciding how to handle the situation. After being caught, students tend to face anywhere from one to three days of suspension, a risk many teens are willing to take. This is obviously not a deterrent. If schools administered harsher punishments of one to three weeks of suspension, students would begin to realize the severity of the consequences of using products on school property. After missing a few days, students are able to easily catch up on missed assignments. However, after a few weeks, students will face more of a struggle to catch up.

“The realization of the punishment might whoop them to reality. If there is an intimidation factor, it may cause many students to stop juuling in schools,” said Jones.

Another popular idea for schools is to conduct educational assemblies or classes to teach students the health risks of nicotine on the body, specifically in vaping products. Students have heard the risks of smoking cigarettes hundreds of times, but many don’t know the true facts of vaping.

“I think a lot of the people who [juul] don’t really know what it does. They just do it because it looks cool, but they don’t really know the effects and health risks. If schools taught those effects, I think it could bring to light those risks,” said Gogna.

Many people would argue that these attempts are too late. They would argue that the FDA has let these problems slip under the radar, and it is too late to stop the problem because many students are now facing the effects of the highly addictive amounts of nicotine.

“I don’t think [the attempts] will change [anything] because teens will find a way to do it. Many teens are now facing addiction, and will do anything just to get to it. Once you do it once, only once, you are going to keep wanting to do it, and it takes a while to stop thinking about it and wanting to do it,” said junior Jordan Oppatt.

Others, however, remain hopeful that rates will go down since the current investigation has brought to light how many students use these products. Hopefully, the FDA and schools will take preventative acts to help bring awareness and end the epidemic of teens using e-cigarettes and JUULs.