‘Juul-alikes’ fill niche left when firm stopped selling some flavors; Drug Free Lexington releases videos aimed at e-cig users

New York Times photo by Brittainy Newman

Pressed by the chief of the Food and Drug Administration last fall, Juul Labs “stopped selling most of its hugely popular flavored nicotine pods in stores last fall,” but now other companies are “trumpeting their own fruity and candy-flavored pods as compatible with Juul devices,” Sheila Kaplan reports for The New York Times. That illustrates “just how entrenched the youth vaping problem has become, and that voluntary measures are unlikely to solve it.”

Chris Bostic, deputy director for policy of Action on Smoking & Health, told Kaplan that the FDA “needs to step in,” but the agency’s willingness to do that has been unclear since Scott Gottlieb left the commissioner’s office. He had proposed requiring that stores put flavored electronic cigarettes, except menthol, mint and tobacco flavors, “to areas off limits to minors,” Kaplan notes. “But the details of the proposal were vague, and with Dr. Gottlieb’s departure, it’s unclear how federal policy might change.” Acting Commissioner Norman E. Sharpless has said he is working on the plan.

The company has filed lawsuits and international-trade complaints against other companies’ “Juul-alikes” but “says it still has the legal right, under FDA rules, to bring back dozens of its own sweet flavors that it once sold in very limited release. They include varieties of watermelon, strawberry and melon, which competitors are already selling, as well as specially designed concoctions: Coconut Bourbon, Elderflower Fizz, Mimosa and Thai Tea, and others,” Kaplan writes. “In April, Juul told Congress it had no intention of bringing those flavors back in the United States.”

poll last year showed that 27 percent of Kentucky high-school seniors reported using electronic cigarettes, up from 12 percent in 2016.

Meanwhile, Drug Free Lexington has released three “public service announcements” about Juuls. “These fast-paced, fact-based PSAs, designed to target parents, teachers, administrators and other working with youth, are free for all to use,” the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky reports. “These short ads provide insight into the chemicals in Juul and their harmful effects, the rising popularity of Juul, why youth may be more susceptible to e-cigarette use and addiction, and why e-cigarettes are especially damaging for teens including negative health costs and long-term adverse health effects.”

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