Teen Vaping: Juul and Retailers Under Renewed FDA Scrutiny

by: The Knowledge Group

September 25, 2018


Is it a flash drive? No, this compact device made by Juul Labs is a vape pipe, and school-age kids find it trendy and attractive.

Electronic cigarettes entered the U.S. market only a decade ago, and quickly gained young adherents.

To use an e-cigarette, the owner fills the device with a “pod” containing propylene glycol, glycerin, and nicotine, and infused with a sweet taste. When the device is on, its heat turns the liquid into a gas to be inhaled.

Now, the FDA is lowering the boom on five e-cig manufacturers, Juul included. The agency is threatening to ban their wares if they cannot stop sales of vaping gear to minors.

The agency is also considering civil or criminal actions against these businesses for enabling online bulk purchases. And federal agents have warned hundreds of corner-store retailers and filling stations that they risk hefty fines if they allow minors to buy vaping gear.

Trendy Cigarettes of a New Generation

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb calls vaping “wildly popular with kids.” Some kids try e-cigarettes without knowing they contain nicotine. Some parents don’t know what these devices are.

Granted, by choosing vaping over traditional cigarettes, these young consumers are inhaling fewer toxins than teen smokers did. Juul’s marketing strategy includes its international touting of the products as relatively healthful, compared to traditional packs of smokes. Yet a typical e-cigarette delivers high levels of addictive nicotine.

The potency of products sold by Juul and others is troubling enough. But what’s more, they taste good. Juul pods come in mango, menthol, mint, cucumber, creme — but not (as the company points out to the FDA) cotton candy or gummy bear.

The Juul Labs website and online shop carry a clear addiction warning banner. Yet their vaping products are not only the market’s best sellers.  They are also this season’s trendy schoolyard accessories. The FDA has its work cut out.

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