UK students say they’re becoming addicted to Juul electronic cigarettes; expert says company has perfected nicotine delivery

Liz Donohoe puffs from a Juul while posing at UK’s School of Art & Visual Studies. (Photo by Quinn Foster)

The nation’s most popular brand of electronic cigarettes is creating addiction on the University of Kentucky campus, Jacob Eads reports for the Kentucky Kernel, the campus newspaper:

“If you’ve ever seen a cloud of smoke go up in the middle of a lecture, you’re probably familiar with the Juul. The popular brand of discreet and sleek e-cigarettes has become a habit in the hands of thousands of college students across the country, and UK students have bought into the trend. But in the haste of keeping up with the Juul’s rise to stardom, did anyone bother to read the box?”

E-cigs “are marketed as a nicotine alternative for adults who are trying to quit smoking, but some public health professionals are waging a war” against them, “in an attempt to study potentially adverse health effects they might have,” Eads reports. “Some say it’s becoming increasingly impossible to cut ties with their nagging Juuls.”

“I think it was kind of a fad to start out. Everyone got one, and now everyone is just super addicted,” junior marketing major Evan Dilbeck told Eads. “I’ve tried to quit several times because it’s $16 for a pack of pods, but it’s impossible when everyone around you has one.”

Juuls are addictive and successful because their maker, Juul Labs, “has figured out how to deliver more nicotine effectively,” said tobacco treatment specialist and nursing professor Audrey Darville told the Kernel. “I don’t think people really, truly appreciate how addictive nicotine is. That’s the hook… Once you become dependent on nicotine, it can be challenging to get off of it.”

The company says one disposable Juul pod, has about the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, Eads reports: “Unlike other e-cigarettes, Juuls pack a punch comparable to traditional cigarettes. A hit from a Juul gives the body a jolt of nicotine at similar speeds to that of a cigarette, according to Darville. She said this almost-instantaneous rush is what makes the Juul so appealing.”
Eads notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently mounted an assault on e-cigarettes because of the “epidemic proportion” of minors who are becoming addicted. “This came after FDA compliance checks uncovered 40 violations for illegal sales of Juul products to youth, one of which came from a local Lexington gas station.”

Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns said in a press release, “We are committed to preventing underage use.” The company “has also pledged to establish its own youth prevention campaign with the help of a $30 million investment intended fund youth education and independent research,” Eads reports. “But while the gesture of a $30 million investment sounds promising, some public health officials say they’re still not buying it.”

“That’s pocket change to them,” Darville said, “but they make it sound so wonderful.”

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