FDA Taking Action Against Juul

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FDA Taking Action Against Juul

Geoffrey Dean, Staff Writer

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Juul Labs, an e-cigarette company that has taken over the lives of teens across the globe, is finally under pressure from the government.  After PAX Labs got their patent approved in 2015, they quickly ascended to the top of the e-cigarette world. Juul products spread like wildfire throughout the world, particularly among teens.  

At last, in September of 2018, the FDA began to take action to end the teen vaping crises.  In a surprise operation, the FDA seized several thousand pages of documents from Juul’s headquarters, in addition to issuing a 60 day window for Juul to stem the increasing wave of teenage Juul users.  Juul Labs’ CEO Kevin Burns reported, “We are committed to preventing underage use, and we want to engage with FDA, lawmakers, public health advocates and others to keep JUUL out of the hands of young people.”  He claimed that the information seized by the FDA was in accordance to the company’s statements and their missions.

In recent years vaping, the inhalation and exhalation of the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device, has become a popular method to help recovering smokers break their habits.  However, people began to purchase these products without the need for them, and the situation soon spiraled out of control. Vape usage has skyrocketed in the past ten years, with the percentage of students using e-cigarettes in school jumping from around 1% in 2011 to nearly 18% in 2015.  According to Nielsen, Juul sales have increased by over 800% in the past 12 months. Even students here at Green Hope High School have taken note. One Green Hope junior says, “There’s so many people Juuling in the bathroom, it’s noteworthy when someone is actually using the bathroom.” Entire portions of the school have had their purposes altered in the wake of the vaping epidemic.

This alarming jump in teen usage prompted an investigation on the part of the Food and Drug Administration to mitigate the problem.  Juul Labs was accused of targeting teens, who are prohibited by federal law to purchase nicotine products. The FDA mandated that Juul Labs Juul has responded to these accusations by changing its advertising model by featuring older adults, and is trying to incorporate recovering smokers into their marketing.

Juul said that they were aware of the appeal their products had to teens, but did not admit to specifically advertising to them.  Their primary product is a small, flash drive sized, e-cigarette, commonly referred to as a Juul. Members of the company said a large part of the Juul’s rapid spread could be attributed to the virality of social media.  In short, kids would see their friends using a Juul, and be enticed to try it themselves, ultimately finding themselves addicted to the product.

Many kids fall victim to the fallacy of “nicotine-less Juuls,” a tale commonly told from teen to teen to give Juuling, or the act of using a Juul, seem innocuous.  This is based in misinformation, as all Juul products contain nicotine. Juul Labs now places a bold warning on it’s website reading, “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”  In addition when surveyed, most kids did not think there is nicotine in their Juul Pod, the container used to hold chemical-laden juice that is transformed into vapor upon inhalation. What is even more frightening is that only 22% of people 18-29 view vaping as harmful, compared to the 83% of people in that same age group that accurately assessed smoking as unhealthy.

The fate of Juul and its various products lies in the hands of the FDA, as Juul attempts to curb teen usage.  The clock runs out for Kevin Burns and his electronic cigarette juggernaut on November 12, 2018. Until then, teens will likely carry on purchasing and using Juuls and Juul Pods, with no hint of slowing down.