JUUL under scrutiny after raising nicotine levels in e-cigarettes

Popular e-cigarette company JUUL is one of the fastest growing vaping companies, with its main customer base being young adults.

For many years, the company has been steadily raising the nicotine content of its e-cigarettes, with little scrutiny. Now, a report has been published stating that the company has undone decades of public health messages and campaigns that have tried to keep children and teenagers away from nicotine.

young person smoking e-cigaretteFedorovacz | Shutterstock

The report, which was written by a team at Stanford University and led by Dr. Robert Jackler, was published in the latest issue of the BMJ journal Tobacco Control, entitled, “Nicotine arms race: JUUL and the high-nicotine product market.”

The company initially used 1 to 2 percent nicotine refills, but quickly increased this to 5 percent, spurring other vaping companies to raise their nicotine levels too.

The effect of this has been huge. Now, almost all refills contain 5 to 7 percent nicotine.

When Juul came out with very high-nicotine electronic cigarettes, it triggered a nicotine arms race amongst competitive companies seeking to emulate the success of Juul.

Dr. Robert Jackler, Lead Author

A 5 percent pod delivers the same amount of nicotine as a packet of cigarettes, write the authors of the study. Jackler explained that such high amounts of nicotine may “be a benefit to addicted adult smokers,” who were trying to quit smoking, “but it also makes it potently addictive to nicotine-naive teenagers.”

There is a steady rise in vaping among teenagers in the US and health advocates are calling for the US Food and Drug Administration to enforce stricter laws and regulations.

In a statement released in 2017, the FDA said it is, “committed to encouraging innovations that have the potential to make a notable public health difference and inform policies and efforts that will best protect kids and help smokers quit cigarettes.”

Juul spokeswoman, Victoria Davis said, “As part of our commitment to prevent underage use, we are taking swift and decisive action against counterfeit and infringing products.”

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