Juul is a popular brand of e-cigarettes or vape pens, and as the largest manufacturer of these products, the company has been criticized for the way their marketing appears to target the underage population. Juul recently hired Dr. Mark Rubinstein, a researcher and pediatrician from the University of California San Francisco who is well known for his work on how nicotine influences an adolescent mind and development

There are varying opinions on whether this represents Juul’s attempt to increase company credibility or a genuine attempt to reduce harm. Publicly, the company states that this hire is part of an effort to reduce teen vaping.

Kids juuling is another way for them to use nicotine instead of smoking a cigarette. The effect of nicotine on the teenage brain is different than the effect on adults. Researchers have shown that more than 70% of adolescents have reported smoking a cigarette at least once. The effects of smoking in adolescence include:

  • Attention deficits
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Executive functions and impulse control
  • Likelihood of future nicotine use and addiction

Teen juuling has become increasingly common and socially acceptable, but may have wider consequences than teens and their parents realize.

Teen E-Cigarette Use on the Rise

The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that there are many alarming statistics related to teen vaping and nicotine addiction.

  • Teens who use e-cigarettes at 30.7% more likely to start smoking within six months
  • 66% of teens think that there is only flavoring, and no nicotine, in their e-cigarette
  • 7 in 10 teenagers are exposed to e-cigarette ads
  • Teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes than they are traditional cigarettes

Juul has been under scrutiny for its business and marketing practices before. Juul features fruit and candy flavored vape liquid and vape pen designs and accessories that could be particularly appealing to young people. It is also well-documented that many Juul users are under 18. In June 2019, Congressional leaders issued a ruling that Juul had to submit summaries of its marketing and advertising materials to discern if the company was targeting underage consumers. The claim that Juul markets its products to kids has also created public opinion issues for the company.

The potential to create a generation of people who are addicted to nicotine is a familiar and concerning dynamic. This is why lawmakers have stepped in to begin considering guidelines on the marketing of e-cigarettes and vape pens. Numerous non-profit organizations and other non-governmental organizations are also working to create education and prevention resources for teen nicotine use and addiction.

Will This Help Solve the Teen Vaping Epidemic?

The role of Juul in teen vaping is a complex topic. The Juul controversy seems to be expanding as well. Alongside claims that the company has made e-cigarettes and vape pens a regular part of the typical teen experience, hiring an expert in adolescent nicotine use and addiction was a controversial choice. One one hand, who better than an expert to help guide the company’s prevention programs and create policy positions?

While the hire may be a sincere effort to reduce teen vaping, some claim its an attempt by Juul to control the narrative. By having an expert on their side, critics say they are bolstering their credibility and ability to skew public perception about the dangers of teens using nicotine or vape pens. 

Parents of teens should be informed about the potential for long-term addiction that can be created by regularly consuming nicotine from an early age. Consumers should always be discerning when they see or hear marketing for substances that can lead to addiction.

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