The Food and Drug Administration began the process of banning fruit avored JUUL products from being sold to youths around the U.S. on Nov. 15, 2018.
While the JUUL website itself requires users to be 21 in order to purchase any products directly from the company, many other non-official retailers have been selling the products to under aged teens since they first appeared on the market.
According to the American Cancer Society, most high schoolers and under aged college students that have JUULs do not even realize the products contain nicotine. In 2012 it was estimated that 66% of teens believed that flavoring was the only product in their e-cigarette. Because of this, they are unaware of the extremely high levels of nicotine packed into each pod, or its ability to implement an addiction that users eventually become unable to kick.
The FDA is not trying to ban fruit avors entirely, but instead are aiming to prevent under aged teens from using JUULs at all. Because the main appeal the e-cigarettes have towards under aged teens is the wide variety of flavors they come in, pods with these flavors in them will now only be available through JUULs official website, which is only accessible by those 21 and older.
However, the ACS also explains that in 2017 the FDA agreed to give all e-cigarette makers an extra five years before they come under FDA review. This would extend the amount of time JUUL is able to continue to sell fruit flavors outside of the online store. The ACS and various pediatricians are currently challenging the federal courts decision to allow this extension.
According to Jim Lidstone, the director of the center for health and social issues at GC, the use of e-cigarettes in middle and high school students more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. Since then, use of any e-cigarette products have increased exponentially thanks to the introduction of various brands and styles such as JUUL.
The FDA has increasingly relaxed its stance on the products likely due to their popularity and profitability. Because of this, companies are not required to report the contents used in the production of e-cigarette ‘juice’, causing the youth currently being targeted by these companies to continually intake contents they are unaware of.
A presentation Lidstone put together explains all the potential health issues and/ or risks that teens could face by consuming these products. One of these being that nicotine levels, as well as other impurities used in production of the juices, are not regulated or well quantified from product to product, meaning there is no way to tell how much of a potentially dangerous chemical enters one’s system after one hit.
Peer health educator student, Amara Tennessee, is passionate about informing others of the potential risks e-cigarettes could pose.
“Because of how new the products are, there isn’t a lot of information about the different risks associated with e-cigarettes,” Tennessee said. “We do know however that there is a chemical in the pod flavorings called diacetyl that poses serious health threats.”
Lewis Barr, a junior biology major, has heard of the FDA’s restriction of fruit avors, and thinks it is a beneficial tactic to go about slowing the rapidly rising nicotine craze, as well as preventing minors from being exposed to such harsh chemicals.
“It was a good move from the FDA to kind of control nicotine addiction in young kids”, Barr said. “I think this will overall decrease JUUL use amongst young kids.
Infographic by Angie Yones | Art Director