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First data on how many teens and young people are using the Juul



woman vaping vape e-cigShutterstock

  • A new study provides the first hard data on how many
    minors and teens may be using the
    , Silicon Valley’s favorite e-cigarette.
  • The company behind the devices is a startup
    called Juul Labs
     that was recently valued at

    $15 billion
    . Their products have surged in popularity,
    amassing 70% of the e-cig market.
  • But Juul faces a
    growing backlash
    from public-health experts and scientists
    who worry about its
    young people

  • Juul
    maintains that its products are for adult smokers who
    want to move away from traditional cigarettes.

For the first time since Silicon Valley e-cigarette startup

Juul Labs
unveiled its flagship product — a sleek, flash
packed with the same nicotine content as a pack of
cigarettes — researchers are getting an idea of how many of its
customers are young people. The results don’t look good.

The findings of a survey published on Tuesday suggest that,
compared with their older counterparts aged 25-34, a higher
portion of
young people
aged 15-17 are using the Juul at least once a

Overall, the researchers found that 6% of the
15-17 year olds
and 8% of the 18-21 year olds in their sample
had used a Juul between one and 30 times in the past 30 days — a
figure that’s roughly
the same
as it is for conventional cigarettes, according to
data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, only about 1% of people aged 25-34 said they’d used a
Juul any time in the past month.

that its products are for adult smokers who want to
move away from traditional cigarettes.

“Underage use is directly opposed to our mission of eliminating
combustible cigarettes by offering the world’s one billion
existing adult smokers a true alternative,” a Juul representative
told Business Insider last week in an emailed statement.

But the new survey data suggest for the first time that
underage ‘Juuling’
is a real phenomenon and not simply the
result of overblown fears propelled by media hype. 

Younger people are more likely to say they ‘Juul’ than older

To conduct their study, five researchers from the Truth
Initiative and a handful of top-notch public health universities
across the US including the Bloomberg School of Public Health,
Johns Hopkins, and New York University recruited more than 9,000
participants between the ages of 15 and 21. They then combined
that data set with more survey data from people recruited as part
of a national survey called the Knowledge Panel for a total of
roughly 14,300 people.

Then, they asked the participants a series of questions about
their use of tobacco products between February and May of 2018.
The questions ranged from how frequently they used a Juul to how
frequently they smoked conventional cigarettes.

Younger people in the survey were significantly more likely to
say they’d either ever used a Juul or regularly used a Juul
compared with their older counterparts. The group with the
highest rates of Juul use was 18-21 year olds, but people aged
15-17 were a close second.

JUUL In Hand Female Denim Jacket copy
A 2016 Juul

Pax Labs

Overall, about 6% of participants said they’d used a Juul at
least once in their lives and about 3% said they were “current
users” or had used a Juul anywhere from one to 30 times in the
last 30 days.

But the figure was substantially higher for both young people
aged 15-17 and young adults aged 18-21.

Among the teens aged 15-17, roughly 10% had ever used a Juul and
about 6% said they had used a Juul at least once in the past
month. Among the young adults aged 18-21, about 11% had ever used
a Juul and roughly 8% had used a Juul at least once in the last

That’s cause for alarm, according to the researchers.

“Further surveillance efforts are … required to monitor how and
to what extent this product may be expanding nicotine addiction
among young people,” they wrote.

Still, the results are limited by several important factors.

The data was collected on behalf of a nonprofit anti-smoking
advocacy group called the Truth Initiative, which was formed as
part of the historic accord between tobacco companies and US
states who sued them for tobacco-related healthcare costs. In
addition, the researchers defined “current users” as anyone
who said they’d used a Juul at least once in the past 30 days.
This means someone who said they used a Juul just once in a
month-long period was lumped into the same category as someone
who said they’d used a Juul every day for the past 30 days. 

Roughly the same percentage of teens are ‘Juuling’ as they are
smoking, but that could be set to increase

Based on the figures from the study, roughly the same percentage
of teens are “Juuling” as they are smoking. According to
the most
recent data
from the CDC, 7.6% of high school students
reported smoking a cigarette within the past 30 days.

The researchers said that’s a worrisome trend — not only because
it’s a substantial figure to begin with, but also because the
majority of their data was collected several months before Juul
experienced a surge in popularity.

The survey was conducted during the spring of 2018, several
months before Juul’s meteoric rise to capture
70% of the e-cigarette market share
. That could mean, the
authors suggest, that their figures significantly underestimate
the current patterns of teen use.

“While rates of Juul use are highest among the younger segments
of the sample, the data only reflect use patterns from February
through May 2018. The most recent Nielsen sales data for Juul
indicate dramatic increases since then,” they wrote.

Indeed, while Juul made up only about
a third of the e-cigarette market share
in March, that figure
skyrocketed to roughly 72% by mid August. 

“Given the rapid uptake of this product, strong regulatory
efforts are needed to prevent further increases in Juul
prevalence among young people,” the researchers concluded.

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