The e-cigarette market is booming, no question about that, and its most viable market are teenagers. Now, the industry’s most popular product doesn’t even look like a smoking device at all.
The Juul is a trendy vaping device that resembles a long, narrow flash drive and can be charged using a laptop’s USB port. As of late 2017, Juul vapes made up 33% of e-cigarette sales, according to Wells Fargo. The device is made for and is legally available to those 18 years and older only, and its jump in sales “appears to be due to growth with the 18 to 24 year old age group,” TIME reports.
However, despite the restrictions, media reports suggest that Juul vapes are being used by kids and teenagers, as well. Each Juul cartridge lasts around 200 puffs and contains as much nicotine as one pack of cigarettes, raising concerns among parents, educators and health professionals.
This trend has been increasingly present on high school and college campuses, earning the term “Juuling,” meaning recreational use of the e-cigarette. And since Juul products are sleek in design and resemble flash drives, they are very easy to conceal and use in school and other public places. Juul devices also emit less smoke, making them less conspicuous.
The problem has grown to an extent that school districts in Kentucky, California, Wisconsin and Massachusetts have sounded the alarm, and in some instances, have begun amending school policies. School publications such as those at New York University and the University of Illinois have also reported on the sweeping trend.
Ashley Gould, chief administrative officer at Juul Labs, says that two smokers created the product specifically to help adults cut down on smoking. The company has multiple anti-youth-use advocacies in place. Gould said,
We really don’t want kids using our product.
She added, “It was absolutely not made to look like a USB port. It was absolutely not made to look discreet, for kids to hide them in school. It was made to not look like a cigarette, because when smokers stop they don’t want to be reminded of cigarettes.”